Review of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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.

I’m gong to say that Shadow of the Fox is something pretty magical. From the incredible world building to the fantastic characters this ticked all the right boxes for me. Yumeko’s mischievous Kitsune is wonderful, she’s like that friend who always seems to get away with things no matter how much trouble they cause! She is the perfect antidote to the serious and sensible Kage. The story itself is set in 3 parts alternating between Yumeko and Kage for the main chapters. I really enjoy dual POV books and the additional insight they give in a first person narrative. What is a little different though, is that each part is opened by Suki, who we meet at the very start and her pages help to fill in the blanks whilst the main players are on their adventure and adventure is what this book is at its heart. Like your favourite anime series met Wizard of Oz, Yumeko is on a journey fraught with dangers but meets those on her way who help in ways she didn’t know she needed. Each place she finds herself she is met with a new test, a new boss battle of sorts with each being more terrible than the last. I loved the use of magics in the writing and how everything from forest spirits to angered ghosts make an appearance. Everything is described with such vivid beauty and the #ownvoice adds a depth and warmth to the pages where the Japanese flows seamlessly.

What was also refreshing is that any romance was kept to blushes and glances, yes there is a hint of inevitability as to where things are leaded (i’m pretty certain love will save the day eventually) but Yumeko is not to be distracted from her task and rightly so given the lives that were lost to set her on her path. Given her sheltered upbringing anything more would not have been authentic to the story. There was nothing I didn’t love about this story, and that includes a potentially inadvertent Monty Python moment (a knight, a bridge, non shall pass…) which may go over the heads of some, but tickled me none the less. Shadow of the Fox is a wonderful addition to the recent flurry of Asian mythology, with fantastic characters that you can’t help but cast in your head, gorgeous surroundings and heart in mouth set pieces. If you want a book to get truly lost in then this will certainly be the one to do it!

5*

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