Shadow of the Fox
- Author: Julie Kagawa
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: October 2, 2018
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen
- Series: Shadow of the Fox #1
CONTENT WARNING: murder, blood, gore, violence
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’s 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 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.
This book came very highly recommended to me, and naturally, I wasn’t let down at all. It smoothly weaves Japanese culture and mythology into a fascinating story that held my attention. I was hooked right from the start.
Yumeko is a mischievous girl, who happens to be half kitsune (fox shapeshifter), and has grown up in an isolated temple being taught how to manage her magic. She struggles with not pulling pranks, and often loses that battle, finding herself in trouble more often than not. However, when a demon horde attacks the temple, Yumeko is the only survivor, and finds herself running with one part of an important, ancient scroll on her way to find another temple.
“Most fox magic was illusion and trickery, just as Denga has said. Images laid over truth, making you see and hear things that weren’t there. Flawless copies, but no more substantial than a reflection in a mirror. But there was one form that I could shapeshifter into for real, though I was forbidden from using it without permission.”
She teams up with Tatsumi, who is also searching for the scroll. They’re forced into teaming up, and the story seems to be shaping up into a very slow-burning enemies into potentially lovers. Since Yumeko has grown up in a fairly isolated setting, she doesn’t have a lot of experience with other people, social customs, or even simple things like sarcasm. But she has an innate sense of goodness, despite her tendency towards pulling pranks. She seems to bring out the best in the people around her, and wants to bring that out in Tatsumi as well, even if he isn’t even sure that there’s any goodness in him.
“Tatsumi was dangerous, I understood that. But, at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel…sorry for him. He didn’t know how to laugh, or smile, or have any fun. He didn’t know the pleasures of the simple things—laughing, dancing, finding beauty in the world. It seemed like a very boring existence.”
I liked the contrast between the characters. While Yumeko is so inherently good, Tatsumi is the polar opposite — he’s basically a weapon and doesn’t have a strongly developed personality that he shows. He’s focused on his duty to his clan above all, and that’s about it. He wasn’t given a chance to do more, be more, experience more. But who knows? This is clearly a series and there’s obviously so much more to come.
The pacing was up and down, but it still felt right to me. There’s periods where they’re just traveling, but it always felt like the next plot twist or action-filled part was coming up, and I loved it. There’s a lot of Japanese words thrown in, with a handy glossary at the end of the book, but Kagawa defines the words clearly in the text as well. I enjoyed learning more about Japanese mythology and culture, especially the samurai and shinobi, and watching the characters interact.
It ends on a cliffhanger with a sense of being unfinished. I want to dive right into the next book immediately, if only to find out what happens. However, I also want to see what happens to Yumeko, Tatsumi, and the rest of the unlikely crew that they have amassed.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 7
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