Content/Trigger Warning: Human sacrifice, graphic death/murder, war themes, graphic violence, loss of loved ones, physical abuse, implied/talk of torture, threat of rape, talk of suicide, and there is a scene that might be hard for people with arachnophobia
“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.”
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.
Shadow of the Fox is an absolute blessing and Julie Kagawa has delivered a captivating book. The first chapter will leave you wondering what is about to happen next or have you saying “Just one more chapter!” Once I made the connections with Japanese mythology and legends, I was hooked and now I can’t stop talking about it. This has definitely been a book of great highlight for me and has made it’s way into my top 2019 books! And the second book in this can’t come soon enough!
In case you didn’t know, this is an own voices Japanese inspired fantasy. While this book does follow three main characters, there are two minor characters to keep an eye on because they may play a bigger role in the future that we, as the readers, aren’t aware of yet. They all end up being forced to work together, while a demon army rains death and destruction.
🌻 Yumeko – Raised by monks in the Temple of the Silent Winds, half kitsune, who is a lot better at illusions than she gives herself credit to. Soon she finds her life thrown into chaos as her only home is ripped away from her by the destruction of an army of demons. Now she will embark on a quest to a hidden temple to bring half of the ancient scroll to safety.
“In this vision, I have seen blood and flames and death, demons shrieking and rivers of bones, and the world grows dark with fear. But a single fox stands above it all, untouched, a great dragon cast in her shadow. Her name is Yumeko, child of dreams, for she is our hope against the coming darkness.”
🌻 Kage – Samurai/Shanobi of the Shadow Clan, one of the most feared and deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. Wielding the blade of Hakaimono, a sword sealed with one of the most deadliest demon generals of his time, Kamigoroshi, Tatsumi is constantly tested with how strong his will is. Sent on a mission by his clan to retrieve a piece of the ancient scroll by any means, instead he finds Yumeko and makes a promise to deliver her to the hidden temple in exchange for the scroll.
“He didn’t know how to laugh, or smile, or have any fun. He didn’t know the pleasures of the simple things – laughing, dancing, finding beauty in the world.”
🌻 Lady Satomi – The wild card in this entire story! Cruel, wicked, and unpredictable, she’s a diabolical lady with an evil plan up her sleeve. She’s the emperor’s favorite concubine, but little does anyone know what she does in her free time. Sacrificing newly hired maids to her demon army, Lady Satomi is after the ancient scroll as well. Leaving a trail of blood, death, and demons in her wake.
“Lady Satomi stood a few paces away, her hair unbound and tossed by the wind, the sleeves of her red-and-black kimono fluttering like sails. Her eyes were hard, and her lips were curled in a tiny smile.”
Minor Characters to Watch
🌻 Suki – Bits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout this entire story. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new made for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Soon turned into a spirit, Suki keeps holding on to the realm of the living to spy on the one who caused her death. I truly believe Suki will play a much bigger role in this whole series and I can’t wait for it!
“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”
🌻 Seigetsu – A mysterious person indeed. A stranger who ends up saving Yumeko from a terrible situation. Possibly a lone samurai, wields a giant sword. He does come back later on in this book and that twist was everything I needed! I have no doubt he is going to be playing a key role in future books!
“He looked powerful, with his golden eyes and giant sword; even the wind witch seemed afraid of him.”
When all of the pieces of the scroll are finally combined together, whole once more, a dragon will rise and the person who has summons it will be granted any wish their heart desires. So long as their heart and soul is pure and good, that is. Should that person be anything but pure and good, I hope you brought a wet suit because it’s going to get very messy. Many people are searching high and low for these pieces of the scroll so that they can combine them to have their wish granted. And let’s not forget, there’s a demon army running rampant trying to bring the end of the world, true apocalypse type stuff. But some people really need their wish granted. You know, for the sake of all humanity to survive.
One thing I will say about this book, if you’re not familiar with Japanese culture, history, legends and mythology ( Granted, things and creatures mentioned in this book are described) then there will be a lot of parts that might not make a lot of sense. Blessings upon Julie Kagawa because she also included a glossary at the back of the book for those who aren’t familiar with the Japanese language, as well. But sometimes, our imagination cannot measure up to the real thing or seeing a physical representation. So if you ever read this book and you have no idea what different types of yokai and demons are supposed to look like, I encourage you to look things up.
I think the biggest thing for me with this book, it feels like a slice of familiarity. Reading about this group of people traveling together remind me so much of some of my favorite anime shows like Inuyasha or Samurai Champloo or even Naruto. I always love seeing various group dynamics come together and how their personalities mesh with each other. Julie Kagawa has done a marvelous job with this. The way Yumeko and Tatsumi are together is so unique and works so well with one another, that I’m constantly craving more. Even as characters were added to their group, the way the different personalities bounced off one another was so good. I love it and I can’t wait to see how the various personalities continue to bloom and grow in Julie’s future books in this series!
Of course, at the heart of this book you will find that there is always friendship. Yumeko constantly shows us in this book that kindness and unconditional love are the two most powerful forces in the world. As you read this book, Yumeko is slowly opening Kage’s world and showing him just how truly powerful both of those are. Their dynamic will make readers go speechless. I can’t even put into words how much I adore their dynamic and how much they open each other’s world. Not to mention, this is only the beginning of a slow burn romance and I am here for every second of it! The minute these two characters crossed paths, I knew I was going to be very attached to them and they did not disappoint!
“Watching her, I found myself holding my breath, unable to look away. For just a moment, with her dark hair rippling about and her skin glowing under the lantern light, she was mesmerizing.”
The most important thing the author weaves into this book is probably the most heaviest topic, but one that isn’t often talked about. We always have a choice, there is always two paths to take. No matter our past, no matter where we come from, no matter the sins our family has made or the wrong our ancestors have done, we have a choice of making things right and to start doing good. And there is no small or big act of kindness that won’t go unnoticed. That one little act can make ripples that we can’t even see or know about. It’s never to late to apologize, right any wrongs, and forgive. Hate is a very consuming and heavy thing for the heart and soul to bear, but revenge is just as heavy.
“The future,” she said, her voice echoing over the crowd, “is an ever changing stream. Every choice, every decision we make, sends it down a different path.”
Overall, Julie Kagawa has given me a book to love and cherish for the rest of my reading days. This is the own voices Japanese fantasy I needed to wake me up and push me to get back into fantasy. I don’t think I could love the book anymore than what I already do. By the time this review is going up, the next book in this series will be releasing shortly after and I’m so ready for. The ending makes you want to keep reading and I have a thirst for needing to know. Everything this book has is simply magical and holds such an important message. I simply love this book and I don’t think I will ever be over these characters!