I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Series: Shadow of the Fox
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.
I’m giving this one five stars for pure enjoyment! <3
I have enjoyed Kagawa’s books on a spectrum, from “absolute love” (Blood of Eden) to “enjoyed but got derailed from finishing the series” (Talon) and finally to “respect but just not into it” (Iron Fey). Shadow of the Fox tops them all! Kagawa brings a rich culture into the mix, adding a new dimension to her writing. I was enthralled! The characters, the blurred lines between good and evil, the historical presence. It all came together for me.
I traveled to Japan, once upon a time (let’s not talk about how long ago, it makes me feel old), so I certainly felt an affinity for the setting. I had Japanese words I haven’t spoken in years ringing through my mind. No, you don’t need to speak Japanese in order to follow the story. There’s even a glossary of terms at the end, no need to google. And no, this isn’t urban fantasy either. The costumes and folklore may strike closely with Japanese culture, but it reads more like a historical Japanese-inspired fantasy.
The first chapter had me a little bit concerned over the intended audience. I had been so sure it was YA, though it began a bit on the juvenile side. Luckily, my concern was unfounded. The subject matter and writing style quickly turned back towards a slightly older audience. Where I became confused had been because I was reading Yumeko’s POV. Half-kitsune, Yumeko was raised by monks in a secluded temple, so it should only make sense that she isn’t as mature as she would be had she been raised outside the temple’s walls. As the story progresses, so does her maturity. She begins to understand the way the world works, without becoming jaded and while still maintaining a sense of innocence.
Tatsumi, on the other hand, had the bleakest upbringing, trained to be a weapon with no room for emotions. The chemistry between Tatsumi and Yumeko is slow-building, and sooooo worth it. With the introduction of secondary male characters, I was a little wary of a potential love-triangle (or square?), but so far, the chemistry seems to be platonic in nature. And with each new character, I’m afraid it gets a little more difficult to tell all the characters apart. Japanese names, in my western-centered brain, are not as easy to distinguish between as Bob and Sam, but I promise you will figure it out.
The overall plot is generally exciting. It reads almost like a series of challenges, quests that Yumeko and Tatsumi need to conquer on their journey. With each challenge, Yumeko proves again and again that she isn’t a weak girl, by any means. Even if her physical strength can’t compete with Tatsumi’s, she is quick and clever, always keeping one step ahead. There’s no doubt how she seems to instill loyalty and bravery in those around her.
This is definitely something my son would enjoy. He devours anime, and loves all things yokai. This might be the perfect shift into written word (Please, child, pick up a book!). The language is entirely clean, not even a kiss is had (though some sexual innuendo from a certain roguish ronin), and plenty of demons and sword fighting. I’m going to place this one in the highly recommend pile.