Series: Shadow of the Fox #3
Published by Harlequin Teen (3.31.2020)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 368 pages
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.
Holy wow!! Night of the Dragon was everything I loved about Shadow of the Fox, and everything I expected from Soul of the Sword. I was disappointed in the second book – it felt like not much really happened, was lacking the action of the first book, and was overall just underwhelming for a Julie book. (I have NEVER rated anything else of hers under 5 stars! Wth!) It had some serious second book syndrome going for it, which is totally weird and made me incredibly sad. However, this one 1000% made up for it!
This book is almost non-stop action from start to finish. There was always something crazy and intense happening – it’s one enemy/monster after another. It was back to feeling like Inuyasha in book form, like the first book! The stakes were super high and danger lurked around every corner. And it all takes place in a richly imagined and magical feudal Japan setting – the world is incredible! I absolutely love the culture and magic, I want to crawl in the pages and live there!
The relationships in this book (and the whole series) are absolutely beautiful! I loved the dynamic of Tatsumi/Hakaimono and Yumeko. After merging with Hakaimono, Tatsumi is coming to terms with who he is now – a totally new person that’s not quite the Kage demonslayer, not quite the demon himself, but a bit of both. I thought his struggle with the darkness was handled really well! Hakaimono made Tatsumi a bit darker and more angry, but Tatsumi also tempered Hakaimono’s rage with his patience and his love for Yumeko.
I also loved the dynamic between Okame and Daisuke! I’m a sucker for forbidden romances, and this one definitely was. Okame is a ronin (constantly referring to himself as a ‘filthy ronin dog’) and is looked down upon for being dishonorable, whereas Daisuke is the picture of honor as a high-ranking noble. There shouldn’t be any room for their relationship in a world that reveres honor and nobility, but they still made it work. View Spoiler »There was a heavy emphasis on their talk of “dying a glorious death together” and I figured they were actually going to die together because it was continuously mentioned in the last two books. So, it wasn’t really a surprise when they did die (and also I wasn’t sure it was going to stick or not, so I was wary about two kind of main characters dying – might have robbed me of some of the emotion). But it still sucked pretty bad. I shed a tear or two because it was just so beautiful! « Hide Spoiler
The ending gave me ALL THE FEELS!! I absolutely LOVE how everything played out in the end. It was incredibly bittersweet! View Spoiler »I didn’t cry when Tatsumi died. I honestly didn’t believe it! I thought for sure Yumeko would use the wish and Tatsumi would come back. (Also, it’s not like Julie to kill off love interests OR main characters, so I thought he’d be safe.) I’m kind of salty that I was robbed of that emotion – fucking fantasy, always bringing dead people back so you can never believe anyone is actually dead *sighs* I cried when Reika died, I didn’t question that one at all. I sobbed. When Okame and Daisuke died I cried a tiny bit because it was beautiful, but I didn’t know if they’d actually stay dead. So when it got to Tatsumi? Didn’t believe it for a minute. But holy shit, Julie actually did it! I’m hella shocked that all of the main characters died except Yumeko. I wasn’t expecting that at all!! And it made their sacrifices much more powerful because they didn’t magically come back to life. I loved that (even though I didn’t cry for Tatsumi, sigh again). There’s nothing I hate more than a “high stakes” fantasy that delivers victory with zero sacrifice. So unrealistic. It’s those sacrifices that make the end victory so much more powerful and realistic!
I also totally choked up when Hakaimono released Tatsumi’s soul! It was adorable and endearing that he was trying to act all devil-may-care about the fact that he cares about them both, even though he didn’t want to. And HOW BADASS is it that Hakaimono teamed up with Yumeko to kick some oni ass to reach the Dragon?! That part was epic!!!
And the actual ending. Oh my lord!! I love that we got to see an epilogue of peace and prosperity in Iwagoto, and Yumeko’s reign as daimyo of the Moon Clan. (Side note: I wasn’t sure how I felt about the revelation that she was a lost princess. Kind of cliche. BUT it was well done, and I like the way it played out! I actually did NOT see that coming at all – I knew Seigetsu was her father, but I hadn’t even considered who her mother was. Plus I love that she finally found family, and was able to have a relationship with her mom after being an orphan for so long! FEELS!) The moment where you KNOW that Tatsumi’s reborn soul was back….UGH. That feeling is just indescribable! I got so choked up at the end when they finally found each other again! SO PERFECT! « Hide Spoiler
Side note: The Kirin was A W E S O M E. That is all.
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 5/5