Another stunning novel by the YA fantasy queen and master of legendary creatures, Julie Kagawa. After faeries, vampires, and shape-shifting dragons, now we have the Yōkai in Shadow of the Fox.
It felt ages since the last time I read a Julie Kagawa novel. I LOVE HER. She is one of my author idols and I was extremely excited when I found out that she was writing a new novel. I was always up to date with her novels but I kinda slacked during the Talon era. But when I heard that her new novel features everything about Japan and its culture, Japanese folklore and all, I just couldn’t wait for October to come too soon.
Related link: Check my review of Talon by Julie Kagawa
Japanese feudal period
If you guys don’t know, I’m a HUGE manga reader! In fact, I think I read more manga than novels. In my childhood years, it’s all about anime for me, but when I entered high school, I became head over heels with manga, and currently with webtoons as well.
My favorite type of manga are those set in historical Japan especially if they are fantasy. I love everything that has Yōkai in it, shinobi and kunoichi, shogun families, samurai, and anything that has to do with historical Japan and its rich culture. Japanese culture just extremely fascinates me.
If you’re like me, Shadow of the Fox is definitely THAT book for you. This novel is set one hundred years ago in the Japanese feudal period when daimyo and shogun families ruled Japan. It is infused with the classic Japanese folklore and legendary creatures that will take you back to days when you watch animes like InuYasha, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Nurarihyon no Mago with so much wonder and fascination. It also reminds me of the manga and game Geten no Hana when it comes to the samurai and shinobi stuff, and my current favorite webtoon, Kochou no Yumeji.
A journey that will leave you in awe
Shadow of the Fox is told in multiple POVs but mainly with Yumeko and Tatsumi‘s POVs. If you’re hungry for an Asian journey, this book won’t fail you.
Yumeko, the main heroine of this novel, is a sheltered half-human and half-kitsune (fox). She grew up with her adoptive family monks in the isolated Silent Wind temple somewhere in Iwagoto, and she has never gone out to the outside world.
But when her home and her adoptive family were burned down to ashes and she was left all alone, she was forced to go on a journey to carry a crucial task that can potentially save the whole Iwagoto. This task is also a promise to her master Isao that she wants to keep.
Leaving the temple for the first time and going blind on a journey to the world she knows nothing, has left her both with so much pressure and excitement. Outside of her ablaze home, she met Tatsumi, a shinobi from the Shadow Clan that was tasked to acquire the dragon scroll. Knowing full well that she can’t go on a journey on her own, she asked Tatsumi to escort her to her destination. Here’s where the journey begins.
Each time they enter a village or a city filled with crowd, merriment, lights, and culture, it’s as if I am living inside Yumeko for I mirror the same awe she expresses in the book.
I never doubt Julie Kagawa when it comes to world building. I’ve seen her fey world in Iron Fey, the vampire city in Blood of Eden, and now we have a traditional Asian empire in Shadow of the Fox. The worlds she makes were always striking and vivid and it is not any different this time (if not more striking). Each stop along their journey is always breathtaking. And even though told with so much details and backstory, it never felt overbearing. Everything just glides smoothly through Kagawa’s writing.
An action-filled adventure with a well-balanced troop!
I loved Meghan, Ash, Puck, Grim, Iron Horse, and Razor. Their chemistry as a group is just so amazing. I got nothing less with the all-Asian party in Shadow of the Fox. It started with just Yumeko and Tatsumi, but ended with quite a handful of people in the group along the way (filled with bishounens if I may add).
The group is a combination of anything you may want. The cheerful and innocent girl in Yumeko, the smart aleck and irritating one called Okame, the calm, composed, and cold persona of Tatsumi, and the noble beauty of a swordsman in Daisuke.
Shadow of the Fox is not quite a reverse-harem if you ask me. There wasn’t really much romance in it which I think will spike in the sequel. Instead, it is more on building camaraderie within the group. It is also more on the action, epic battles, and bloody adventures and I’M LIVING FOR IT!
Yumeko is smart, cheerful, and a prankster yet innocent half-human and half-kitsune. She was smart enough to seek for help when she knows she can’t do anything on her own. She was a prankster by nature because of her kitsune blood, but she wasn’t stubborn and she weighs her actions rather quite well. She wasn’t strong and she’s well aware of it. She has a lot of room to develop, and that’s what I can’t wait to witness in the next books.
Tatsumi, on the other hand, is anything but expressive. He was raised learning how to completely shut his emotions. For he is the carrier of Kamigorosho, a sword vessel where a powerful demon called Hakaimono is sealed. He is a demonslayer from the Kage Clan – a shinobi born to kill – and
any glimpse of emotion will set the demon free. He met Yumeko and was forced to join and protect her on her journey for his own purpose.
Tatsumi’s cold and emotionless characteristics are quite common in the shinobi world as far as my knowledge takes me. I have met quite a few characters with similar traits from some of the manga I have read before. Even in Naruto, one of my ultimate favorite manga, it was mentioned that ninjas follow these specific code of conducts or shinobi rules to “kill their emotions”. Getting too emotional prevents them from failing missions.
Uzumaki Naruto can’t relate.
The interactions between Yumeko and Tatsumi are quite interesting. Even with Tatsumi’s chilling and dangerous aura, he was never harsh toward Yumeko. Yumeko also never showed fright whilst knowing the danger in her life by having Tatsumi on her side. It got even more amusing when the party added the loud ronin, Okame, and the noble samurai, Daisuke. It was an odd yet fascinating overall combination.
To be honest, reading Shadow of the Fox took me more time than what I have expected. Not because it felt dragging for me or anything, but because I was so engrossed to the world and writing that I was so eager to get all the details, even the tiniest ones. I even got my books filled with so much sticky flags!
It was quite a long journey throughout the novel, and I think reading this calls for patience and extreme eagerness especially if you are new to the theme of the story. I have always love this theme, and I wouldn’t mind reading this over and over again.
I also don’t usually draw fan arts in the middle of reading a book, but I did for this one and hat shows how much I love the book. I will give this book a million stars if I can.
The ending was not a hardcore cliffhanger so I think I can live for the waiting game. And to wrap up my review, finishing this book gave me that really nice feeling of content.
“The future is an ever changing stream. Every choice, every decision we make, sends it down a different path. To glimpse the fortune of another is to see hundreds of possibilities at once. It is never a task to be taken lightly or in haste.”Shadow of the Fox, Julie Kagawa
Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Nikki of Book Allure for granting my #BookishWish of an ARC of Shadow of the Fox. <3