🌸 Shadow of the Fox – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, graphic violence & injuries, grief, loss of a loved one, death of a animal, war themes, threats of torture, and much more!
“All souls have a destiny. Some are simply brighter than others.”
It’s no secret that I fell in love with Julie Kagawa and her captivating writing in 2019 when I first read Shadow of the Fox. I loved it so much that I knew from the moment I read the first page that I would be continuing the series. And I’m so glad that I did! Book Two had so many surprises, a lot of tension, and many question on how the end game will conclude. Needless to say, book two was everything I wanted and more!
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Hakaimono has returned and Tatsumi is gone. After saving Master Jiro, everything seems to have taken a turn for the worst. Our band of heroes now knows Yumeko’s biggest secret, Hakaimono has been unleash into the world, and they seem further away from completely their goal then they ever could have imagined. Despite the challenges they face, they will continue to travel and fight side by side. But in the shadows, a dark presence is rising and will stop at nothing to have all pieces of the Dragon Scroll.
👹 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.
👹 Tatsumi – 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. Only now, Tatsumi has been completely taken over by Hakaimono because love can make even the most disciplined person crumble.
👹 Suki – Bits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout the first book, but now we see her playing a roll in this book as well. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new maid for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Suki was turned into a sacrifice, now a spirit that continues to cling to the mortal world, only she’ll play a much larger role than she ever imagined.
👹 Seigetsu – We meet Seigetsu in the first book when he first encounters Yumeko and saves her from a terrible situation. Now, we see him playing a bigger role in book two. He’s still a mysterious person, but we now come to know that he’s a master of shogi and is able to know about events in the future with his companion, Taka.
👹 Hakaimono – The sealed within his own sword, Kamigoroshi, Hakaimono was one of the deadliest demon generals of his time. And now he’s finally on the rise after he’s possessed Tatsumi’s body.
👹 Reika – The priestess from the Sun Clan’s territory. Agreed to come along with Yumeko and the others to find Mast Jiro, and save him from whatever trouble he would be in. Now, she travels to ensure the piece of the Dragon Scroll is delivered to the Steel Feather Temple.
👹 Master Jiro – Head priest of the temple in Sun Clan territory. Ended up being taken captive in the first book. Now he travels with Yumeko, Reika, and the others to lead the way to the Steel Feather Temple.
👹 Okame – Often referred to as Ronin, but is actually the sweetest and a damn good shot in archery. Originally a bandit, but changed his tune after Yumeko showed him kindness, compassion, and understanding. Having nothing better to do, he decides to join the team. He’s snarky, witty, and secretly a cinnamon role.
👹 Daisuke – A noble who was once as a great samurai who fought fighters for passage on a bridge, but after meeting Tatsumi, he was unable to fulfill the greatest battle of all. Now, he travels with this unlikely group of friends. Even after finding out Yumeko is a kisune, he still swears his sword to her and promises to protect her as she travels to the Steel Feather Temple. He’s also a complete romantic and is sweet on one of the traveling companions.
I love these characters with every fiber in my being. Even Hakaimono has a piece of my heart and I know he’s one of the deadliest demon generals, but… I just love him and despite it all, I bet he’s a secret cinnamon roll (probably not, but one can hope). Every part with these characters is just fantastic, including when we flash from the three povs. Each pov was executed so well and no matter who’s perspective we were in, as the reader, we get to see the full picture with all the side characters.
Speaking of the characters, Daisuke and Okame threw me for a loop! They couldn’t be more different from each other, but they both shine in their own ways. However, I never realized how well their conversations between one another melt together so well. And their scenes together are so good. There’s warmth, there’s tension, they challenge each other, and they’re just an all around good time!
We also branch away from the Tatsumi perspective and instead get Hakaimono. Now that was a wild ride. I’ll admit, I was secretly hoping Kagawa would take this series it there and have Hakaimono take full control of Tatsumi’s body, but the way she made Hakaimono’s point of view so enthralling, we love to see it. We also see what Tatsumi is like since Hakaimono has taken over his body. When Yumeko goes to find Tatsumi’s soul in the dream world, we see how much Tatsumi has suffered. That was the moment, the moment I realized I want Tatsumi to be happy and to watch him flourish into everything he could be outside of his clan.
“But then, he let out a breath, and it seemed to release all the fear, uncertainty, horror and doubt of the past nightmare. He crushed me to his chest, clinging to me like a lifeline, like I was his sanity and he was afraid I would abandon him.”
I also loved how we see Yumeko really come into her kitsune side. Yumeko clings to her humanity in this series, but in Soul of the Sword, her character development is fantastic. In the first book, Yumeko was very timid and didn’t use her powers that often. In this book, that isn’t the case. Yumeko does whatever she can to keep her friends safe, she learns how powerful and deadly her powers can be, and she uses them to save Tatsumi. I have no doubt that in the final book we’ll see her be taken to a whole new height as she’s forced to use ever ounce of kitsune magic to protect her loved ones and the entire country.
Also, how dare Kagawa give us an ending like that! I think I choked on my drink several times reading the last handful chapters. I knew things were going to get really intense, but I never thought it would go the way that it did. This is probably one of my favorite endings in any series I’ve read so far. True blessings for such high stakes and surprises. And I’ll admit that there were a few parts I should have seen coming, but I was so wrapped up in all the chaos and Tatsumi/Hakaimono that I was hardly registering anything else.
I truly loved everything about this book and I don’t want to reveal too much especially if you haven’t read the first book yet. However, if you were expecting this book to follow the romance between Tatsumi and Yumeko, then you’re going to be disappointed. The romance has never been the main focus of this series, but it’s a key factor in the story-line. I went in knowing that it wasn’t focused on the romance and I still loved it so much. I still have questions I want answers to! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but the story-line, plot, and world building is so good that it doesn’t matter to me if there’s a romance or not. If you think you need the romance to keep you motivated to read this book, the romance is still there, but it’s not so heavily focused or even as obvious as it was in book one.
“My master used to say, sometimes a whisper is all that is required to calm a storm, but when words fail, sometimes you need the thunder.”
Overall, I have heard the good and bad about this book, but I still fell in love with it just like the first book. I loved the world building, I see every ounce of Japanese mythology that went into this, and I just really, really love this series. If you haven’t picked this series up then let me tell you that you should. Even if you’re not much of a fantasy reader, I believe any kind of reader can find something that they’ll really love and appreciate in this series.
Read for the Asian Readathon 🏮