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Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

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🌸 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 🏮

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Playlists

Shadow of the Fox Reading Playlist

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You can find my review for this book on my GoodReads and on my blog!

“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.” 

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!

I loved this book so much and I’m still thinking about every little piece from this book! The characters are some of the most captivating that will lure you into investing every emotions you have into them. But having this reading experience wouldn’t be complete without the amazing music I was listening to while reading this ya fantasy! So without any further delay, let me share some of the best music to listen to while reading this book!

Memoirs of a Geisha Full Soundtrack
Relaxing Japanese Music
Zen Garden
MISIA – DEEPNESS
MISIA – 白い季節
Japanese Battle Music

Okay, friends! That’s my whole playlists for Shadow of the Fox! I hope you give some of these amazing tunes a chance and you enjoy them as much as I do. With the sequel right on the horizon, I might just have to make a playlist for that one as well. As always, I hope your month is full of amazing reads and if you haven’t decided on what to read next, I hope you consider giving Shadow of the Fox a chance! Until next time, I love you and may your tbr be full! ❤️

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Shadow of the Fox by (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa

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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.

Main Characters

🌻 YumekoRaised 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.”

🌻 KageSamurai/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 SatomiThe 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

🌻 SukiBits 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 maid 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.”

🌻 SeigetsuA 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!

Original art by sXeven. Shared by Julie Kagawa on Facebook.

“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!

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