This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
Title: Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harper Collins / HQ Young Adult
Publication Date: 1 November 2018
Length: 454 pages
A single wish will spark a new dawn. Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns…and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish.
The time is near and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret.
Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple’s greatest treasure – one part of the ancient scroll.
Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll.
This is the first instalment in the Shadow of the Fox trilogy.
There was just so much to love about Shadow of the Fox! It was spunky, it was funny, it was lovable, it just had all the elements I look for in a book. But the best description I could use for it would be “entertaining”.
It was such an entertaining book! It felt like I was reading an anime and playing it out in my head. You could think of it as a visual novel, if you will… Though with a lot more literary flair to it.
This was my first Julie Kagawa book and I have to say she nailed it almost to a T!
Yumeko was such an adorable character – I adored her and wanted to protect her at all costs (a task she made sure would not be easy). Tatsumi was your typical brooding samurai who was trained from birth to withhold his feelings and solely concentrate on his goals. Goals that involved killing and maiming demons… I think you know where I’m getting.
The other characters were super cool as well, and made me laugh so hard!
The plot itself was what took up most of the story. There was the main adventure, which consisted of Yumeko going on a journey to find a certain temple alongside her newfound companions, and then there were the mini-adventures, which kind of threw themselves in our heroes’ way. They had to stop and take care of the issue before moving on – sometimes of their own volition, and sometimes because they were very much forced to.
This mission was quite a difficult one, with many foes trying to hinder their progress at every corner. So there was a lot going on, and enough to keep me engaged throughout.
I also really liked the subtle hints at romance. You knew there was something going on, but there was too much at stake and never enough time to really focus on that. So no actual romance in this one!
The Japanese mythology was masterfully injected in all the right places and I ended up learning so much about clans, and demons, and legends, and just Japanese culture in general – the food, the lifestyle, their values… It was all very accurate and well-researched (though I’m sure the author knew most of it by heart, considering her heritage) and all so amazingly interesting.
I can’t fault the writing in any way. It was great: well-structured, perfect pace, and the addition of multiple POVs really helped shape the story. It was always cool to get inside each character’s head and see what they were thinking, especially when we got to visit far away places and even get a peek of our villains.
I have to say that, despite developing a really soft spot for all the characters, I still felt like they weren’t as realistic as they could have been. I would even go so far as to say they felt a little cliché.
Yumeko could be a little too excitable and naïve at times, and even though lots of people may argue that was due to her upbringing in a secluded temple, it still doesn’t explain why she felt so… Familiar. Like I’d read about a character just like her before. The same goes for Tatsumi and some other characters. There just wasn’t enough newness or dimension to them to make me feel like they were flesh and blood. More like… Your typical anime characters.
The plot itself wasn’t extremely original, but it was done well and to me, that’s what’s most important.
I enjoyed Shadow of the Fox so much! It was such a fun and fast-paced story, with so many cool adventures along the way. It was exciting and really held my attention throughout.
Even though the characters and plot were not the most original ones I’ve seen, they still managed to steal my heart and make me happy to trail along for the ride. The great writing was a huge plus and didn’t let me down once – I will definitely be reading more from Kagawa in the future!
Shadow of the Fox is also an amazing tribute to Japanese culture and especially its deepest roots: mythology. So if you love reading about Japanese demons, gods, and their various forms, you can’t miss this title. It truly is one cool anime in book form.
Overall, I do recommend this for a fun reading experience!