Title/Author: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Series?: Book One in the Shadow of the Fox series
Page Count: 409 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Asian Fantasy
Obtained: I did receive this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Notes: Trigger Warning for violence and threats of sexual assault.
GR Summary: 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.
Character – 7.75 | I freaking loved the characters in this story
except Suki. Yumeko’s naivete from living with the monks is more endearing than annoying and Uchiha Sasuke, I mean, Kage Tatsumi’s brooding inner monologues were such a joy to read. The characters that make up their traveling party at the end of the novel fall in line with the stereotypes that you can find in pretty much any anime. The ditsy main heroine, the dark and brooding loner, the pervert (Okame), the guy who is ridiculously perfect (Daisuke), the tsundere (Reika), and even the cute pet (Chu) and it is amazing. Each character had their own distinct voice, even Suki with her incessant whining. With the exception of the first three chapters when I was learning who was who, I never had a problem figuring out who was narrating what chapter.
Atmosphere – 9.5| Not going to lie, when everyone said that this book reads like you’re watching Inuyasha, I was HIGHLY skeptical. But honestly, it lived up to its reputation and I freaking loved it. The locations in this novel are fictional, but they felt like real places in Japan that feature in any historical anime. Kagawa played with a back and forth between Japanese and English but made it so seamless and easy to understand that it was hard to believe that we weren’t reading a book in translation. I will admit, Japanese media purists will say it was a bit cheesy but I feel like it works in this format as a gateway to the language and culture. I do wish there was more detail about their time between cities out in the forest or at least mentioning that places are relatively close by.
Writing Style – 7.5 | Julie Kagawa has always had a writing style that is either hit or miss for me depending on what story she is telling. With this first book of a new series, her style definitely works form, particularly since it has been quite a while since I’ve read anything by her. Her style in Shadow of the Fox is very descriptive in Yumeko’s chapters and a bit more blunt and emotionally stunted in Tatsumi’s, lending to their distinctive voices and the switch between their first-person POVs. Again as I said before she weaves easy-to-recognize Japanese words and phrases in with her prose and doesn’t stop to apologetically explain every single word. And for some words that may not be known, she includes plenty of context clues which allows the book to feel very natural and refreshing.
Plot & Progression – 10| You guys, this plot is freaking amazing. It reminds me of so many years between middle school and university staying up late watching anime and reading manga and then being able to make friends with other people who were into the same stuff. I never knew I wanted a YA fantasy novel about a half-kitsune, a ninja, a disgraced samurai, and a nobleman on a quest to basically save the world from annihilation until I read this. Publishers, give us more books like this okay? I felt like the progression of this novel was a bit too fast-paced. Compared to most YA fantasy novels, Shadow of the Fox is very short at only 409 pages. I would have liked to see more character development on Yumeko’s side and more time in between cities. I loved Tatsumi’s chapters because he’s such an internal monologue type of character and I want to see more of that.
Intrigue – 10 | I love this story. I want more of it. I am utterly hooked from Yumeko’s first chapter. Give me the next book now. That is all.
Logic – 7.75| This is a fantasy novel, so obviously a lot of the logic in the novel is not logical in our world. BUT it does feel very believable in the parameters of the story and in the realm of the mythology it’s based on. My main complaint is that there wasn’t much back story revealed in this book which I was very frustrated by. From the end chapters, it seems like it will be revealed in the next book but I really would have preferred more in this first book. I guess I’ll just stay as confused as Okame until the next book.
Enjoyment – 9.75| I REALLY enjoyed this novel. It definitely lives up to the hype of being an anime in a YA novel format and I do not hesitate to compare it to Inuyasha, which is one of my favorite animes of all time. I am attached to all of these characters and I am eagerly anticipating the sequel. The reason it got docked .25 points is that I really hated Suki’s chapters, I just thought she was whiny and useless and I would have preferred her chapters from Satomi’s point of view instead. The other reason is that I am REALLY hoping this doesn’t turn into a weird love square because just, no.
Total Score: 62.25 / 7 = 8.9
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars