Series: Shadow of the Fox #1
Published by Harlequin Teen (10.2.2018)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, 400 pages
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 shapeshifting 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.
A wish will be granted and a new age will dawn.
The dragon is rising.
Three things Jessi loves:
- Japanese culture
- Julie Kagawa
I knew I would love this book before I ever picked it up, because 1) Julie is my second favorite author of all time, and 2) I LOOOVE Japanese culture. There are not enough Japanese books in YA! In fact, the only other one I know of off the top of my head is my fave series, The Lotus Wars (by Jay Kristoff who happens to be my favorite author). This book reminded me so much of that world, and it made me love it even more!
Which brings me to my third point: This book is basically Inuyasha in book form. I wasn’t expecting that going in, so it was a pleasant surprise! It felt SO much like Inuyasha, which is one of my all time fave animes, I enjoyed the shit out of it you guys! I had so much fun reading this book. The oni and yokai and the feudal era-esque world just screamed Inuyasha. It reads very much like an anime as well. It was awesome!!
I also want to say how thrilled I am that Julie is finally publishing a Japanese story. WINNING. And even better that it’s a kitsune story! The kitsune myth fascinates me, and when she teased it at a signing I went to a year or two ago I was beside myself! I’m so glad I got my hands on this book.
Now, on to the story. The world and culture were definitely my favorite part! I adored all of the colorful and imaginative Japanese culture and legends brought together. And the idea of a wish granting dragon that awakens only once in a thousand years – um, AMAZING?! It was such a unique and magical concept, and Julie’s beautiful storytelling brought it to life.
“I am nothing. I am a weapon in the hands of the Kage. My life exists only to be the bearer of Kamigoroshi and to obey the orders of the Shadow Clan.”
The characters were really outside of Julie’s typical norm. Yumeko is very naive because of being locked away at the temple her whole life and experiencing basically nothing (SHE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND SARCASM like what even is this in a Julie book, no sarcasm from our main character?!); and Tatsumi had the personality of a loaf of bread due to being an emotionless soldier (he has to lock his emotions away because if he doesn’t the demon, Hakaimono, that’s trapped in his sword will take over his soul and that = reeeaally bad mkay). I’m so used to Julie’s snarky, fiesty characters that it was VERY different to read these two. Reading Tatsumi’s POV was a bit difficult at first because there is ZERO emotion to it whatsoever. But over time you can see the clear change in him as he starts to feel (View Spoiler »which ultimately ends up allowing Hakaimono to take him over, oops. I’m glad that after all of the building up and foreboding about Tatsumi having to suppress his emotions to avoid that outcome, Julie didn’t spare him and have him to overcome the demon when he let his emotions get the best of him! « Hide Spoiler) and Yumeko finally brings a bit of life out of him. The same for Yumeko – she starts experiencing life and slowly learns the ways of the world, eventually losing some of the naïveté (thankfully).
But, of course, we couldn’t have a Julie book without at least one snarky character; so we have Okame, the honorless and sarcastic ronin to save the day! He was my favorite (of course, again)! I loved his snark, especially when Yumeko took him seriously. Banter is my fave and Julie is a pro at writing it!
There are switching POVs – which is something that only works for me half of the time. But with this one, it worked! The chapters in the ARC weren’t actually labeled even though they switch off between Yumeko and Tatsumi, but I never forgot who I was reading or got lost in the POV. There was a clear distinction between the two!
Um, THAT ENDING? Of course I knew it would be a cliffhanger. It’s Julie. But dammit, I wasn’t ready for that! View Spoiler »Yumeko is going to have to go all Kagome and bring Inuyasha, I mean Tatsumi, back from the demon side. *waggles eyebrows* MY BODY IS READY.
« Hide Spoiler
P.S. Kamigoroshi (the sword that Tatsumi wielded) was badass and TOTALLY reminded me of Inuyasha’s sword. Just sayin’.
“I suppose you’ll be accepting the duel, then. Wouldn’t want to risk dishonor to…I guess everything, really. Yourself, your clan, your children, your livestock, the road you’re traveling, the sandals on your feet, the rice balls in your pack-“
A fat tanuki statue wearing a straw hat and clutching a sake bottle stood beside the entrance, beckoning travelers inside. “What do you think, Yumeko-chan?”
Yumeko blinked at the statue and crossed her arms. “I don’t think this is a proper representation,” she stated in a serious voice. “I’ve never known any tanuki to have that big a scrotum.”
The ronin made a spitting noise and turned away, coughing and beating his chest. “He means food, Yumeko.”
“Master Isao had a saying. He told me that the tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend. Of course, sometimes that worked against me whenever I played a small prank on Denga or Nitoru. The consequences would get bigger and bigger, things would spiral out of control, a troop of monkeys would end up in the prayer hall, and then I’d be polishing the veranda for the next month.”
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 5/5
I’m only halfway through, and while I like it, I don’t love it like you do. I guess it’s my lack of knowledge of Japanese folklore and culture that holds me back from loving it. It did take some time for me to get into it too. I do appreciate the great writing and the characters are fascinating, which is pulling me into learning more after reading.