Manhwa Review | The Boy Who Stole From the Fairy Lake by Sudong



There will be spoilers for the series The Boy Who Stole From the Fairy Lake.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to blood, theft, violence, unofficial adoption, child abuse, child neglect, PTSD, sexual assault, , sexism, misgendering, attempted kidnapping, attempted rape, ableism, chronic illness, self-deprecation, child abandonment, forced birth, forced marriage, confinement, animal death, pet death, classism, animal cruelty, death, attempted murder, self-harm, arranged marriage (not between the main couple), break ups (not between the main couple), parasomnia, mentions of war, mentions of plague, ghosts and hauntings, body-shaming (specifically commentary on weight loss and eating), , bandits, implied male pregnancy, power imbalance, homomisia, blackmail, bullying, harassment, mentions of hit and run accidents, and excessive drinking, as it appears in the manhwa.


Hyosin is a runaway — an adult runaway, but a runaway nonetheless. He hails from a noble family, but he just doesn't fit in, so when he gets the chance to buy his way onto a boat and escape, he does just that. Unfortunately, due to his privileged upbringing, Hyosin has a tough time surviving out in the wilds of this foreign place. But luck shines upon him when he happens upon some clothes waving in the wind on a tree branch. Needing some new clothes, Hyosin wastes no time to snatch them up.

But just when he's thanking the gods for this stroke of luck, he finds a pool of water where a beautiful naked man is bathing. The man's name is San, and he isn't alone. His seven aunts, fairies, are also bathing in the pool, and as it turns out, a thief has been stealing their jewelry while they're in the bath. San is immediately suspicious of Hyosin, his appearance being far too convenient as things are being stolen. Hyosin is quick to claim his innocence but also quick to beg for help from San. San lives nearby, and having spent far longer out in the cold than he would like, Hyosin wants nothing more than to stay with San for a while.

San is hesitant, untrusting of most humans as a half-fairy himself. However, after some gentle pressure from his aunts and pitiful pleading from Hyosin, San agrees to let Hyosin (who introduces himself as Chung) stay with him. Things start off rocky between the pair, but over time, they find that opposites do, in fact, attract. But Hyosin is still a runaway, and his brother is right on his heels. As Hyosin knows, his brother will stop at nothing to get Hyosin back — dead or alive.


The art starts super rough. It's very inconsistent, and I'd even say it is ugly most of the time — that is, until the second season. Then, we get a massive upgrade. It's still inconsistent occasionally, but Chongah is absolutely stunning (and I love that the creator confirmed that he's a top). It really doesn't get super consistent until the very end, so if you're looking for perfection, this isn't it. It has a lot of character, though, and has some truly stunning panels, especially later on, that I think are worth seeing. It's just unfortunate how much poor art you have to get through in the beginning to get to the fantastic art later on (but it is really worth it, I promise).

Cover art for The Boy Who Stole From the Fairy Lake on Tapas

It's also unfortunate the names change. I've seen this in a few other titles, and it's so confusing when multiple spellings of the same name appear throughout the work. Hyosin sometimes appears as “Hyoshin,” and Bumryung sometimes appears as “Bumryeong”. For the sake of the review, I'm sticking with the initial spellings, but either of them could be correct. I just don't know.

I'm not going to lie; the first season was super meh. It's disjointed and rushed and just overall needless. The brother is hardly a villain before a tiger takes him out in the most anticlimactic way, the between Hyosin and San is rushed, and it feels like the rules change all the time (first, it's the earrings that would take him to be a fairy, then it's the fairy clothes, but the fairies only take his earrings… it just doesn't make much sense). But then we get to the second season and holy shit. The tonal shift is great. The story is well thought out and well-paced. It does an amazing bait-and-switch. There were even times I cried. Once again, I didn't see why we needed the first season when the second is so powerful and strong, but then the second season ends, and we see how they're tied together… it's a weaker link, but I can't help saying I love it all the same.

What I adore about the second season is the flashback arc. Chongah is a long-lived deity with the unfortunate power to show humans how they will die by touching them. He's tried numerous times to develop relationships with humans, only for them to spiral from knowing their fate. One such time ends with the death of a couple, leaving a child orphaned. Though he knows he shouldn't, Chongah can't help but feel responsible for the child, so he raises him. This sets us up to believe that the child will eventually become the person Bumryung reincarnated from, which, admittedly, is an ick for me. I hate the “pseudo-child/adopted child falls in love with their caregiver” storyline. But then the child gets a dog, and the dog, from living with a deity, learns to talk, gives Chongah his name, and obtains a human form. As it turns out, he is Bumryung's past life, which I immensely prefer. This leads to a painful jealousy arc between Bumryung's past life and the boy Chongah raised, as Bumryung can become a deity and, as such, touch Chongah. I don't want to spoil this too much more because there are still some super sweet and painful reveals that I wish I could forget and reread to experience them again, and I'd like for anyone reading this review to get that chance if they are interested. This arc is absolutely everything and shows the most growth art-wise, so it's absolute perfection.

Then, my favorite couple, Bumryung and Chongah, get a side story set in modern times, which is everything. This has some of the best art, features my favorite couple, and explores aspects of their characters we didn't get to see through the setting before. It's not super in-depth or anything like that, but it's a really lovely addition to the story that gives more time to the best people in the series: Bumryung and Chongah, but I'm a bit biased on that front.


I think this would have been an instant favorite if it hadn't been for the speedy and haphazard first season. That second season just sits with you, and I have reread the flashback arc over and over again in preparation for this review, and I probably will continue to do so long after this goes up. Looking back, season one feels like it might have been created as an excuse to have the clever tie-in in the second season, which was more planned and thought out. As a result, the first season was rushed and messy, with little to no direction so that we could get to the second season. As much as I love the second season's tie-in, I think this would've been much stronger overall without the first season and the tie-in. I still think you should read this for the second season, but the first season might be tough to get through.

Have you read The Boy Who Stole From the Fairy Lake? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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