Fiction Books, YA Books

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – Book Review

Thank you to HQ and Netgalley for providing an eARC. All opinions are my own.

I requested this book because I had heard great things about it and it did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

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Rating: 4/5

If you didn’t know what it’s about, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

The book is set in feudal Japan and I adored the rich, detailed world building. We explore so much of the world with the characters travels and I loved every bit of it from the vast forests to the busy city. I did find the world a bit confusing at first but as I got into the story I quickly fell in love with the Japanese legends and lore and the way that Japan was run and there’s also samurai’s, ninjas and demons!

We are told the story from multiple points of view, mainly through Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi, but also sporadically through Suki’s who’s point of view we see first. It means we get a wider view of the world and through Suki (who is a maid in the emperor’s palace) we get to see some insight into the villain in the book.

Yumeko is a wonderfully fun and mischievous character. Being half-kitsune it comes naturally to her and we see her at the beginning as someone who hates responsibility and loves pulling pranks but she has great character development that happens naturally throughout the book. I loved how she’s not suddenly an invulnerable badass but she is still vulnerable but knows her strengths. She knows that she can wield illusions but she would not be able to fight demons on her own so she convinces Kage Tatsumi, a samurai, who is after what she has, to get her safely to her destination, all the while never letting him find out that she has what he wants.

I also loved the awe, and sometimes the naivety of her, when she sees the world beyond the walls of the temple. It was refreshing to see a character who loves experiencing the world and through her we get to experience it too. She is also brave and kind and stands up for what is right, much to the irritation of Kage Tatsumi, who wants to ignore everything and continue to the destination.

Kage Tatsumi is the opposite of Yumeko, he is as serious and unfeeling as she is fun and loves experiencing new things. It was so interesting to see how despite being complete opposites they seem to get along so well and work so well together. And we get a better understanding of why he is the way he is as we travel with them, and why having emotions could have dire consequences for him and for those around him. It makes him mysterious and makes me want to know more about him and despite being a character who I would tend to not like, I really liked him! He has an interesting character arc in the story, albeit a little predictable, but it was still well done enough that I didn’t mind.

The story itself was interesting and action packed and even though there is an overall story arc we have smaller arcs throughout the book, quests that the characters go on while trying to reach the temple that Yumeko needs to get to. I really loved the characters that they meet along the way and who join them on their quest. They had great banter and interaction with each other and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them in the next book.

Both Yumeko and Kage Tatsumi have to deal with moral dilemmas throughout the book and it was interesting to see them deal with that and one of the things I really loved about the book was that there was very little romance, the main theme was friendships and how these group of strangers, ended up befriending each other and how this led to the loyalty and kindness towards each other and how they are willing to fight to the death for each other, it was refreshing to see.

Overall I really enjoyed the story, especially with that ending and cliffhanger, it left me wanting to know more! I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.

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