The Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

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Synopsis

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.

My review

Shadow of the Fox is imaginative, humorous, creativite and well researched.

Yumeko, raised in a temple by monks, is faced with a mission once the temple is burnt to the ground and her family is brutally murdered. As she sets out on her journey she meets Kage, a Shadow Clan Samurai who has been raised to feel no emotion and do whatever it takes to complete his missions. He has killed for his clan and will again if he has to. Tatsumi and Yumeko attempt to help one another as they travel to the capitol. Their adventures are filled with interesting places, people and life threatening decisions. Upon meeting the bad mannered ronin, Okame, I found myself chuckling at his attitude, sarcasm and actions of his character in general. The three together are entertaining and this drew me in.

Prior to Okame being introduced I felt that the Japanese folk tales and legends were being recited rather than worked into the plot, however this soon changed. I loved the introduction of yokai, dragons and kitsune. All of these are familiar to me and I found myself reaching for my book of yokai, which has images of them. The author’s knowledge and research into Japanese legends and folk tales is evident in her writing. This became better and better as the novel progressed.

I’ve heard of stories of wild dogs who would defend a stranger on the road to their last breath, simply because that person threw a crumb instead of a rock.’ Yumeko has a beautiful view of life, even after all that has happened to her she has a positive spin on everything. She attempts to maintain her connection with the monks who raised her, by ensuring that she does not forget their teachings, which keep her grounded. The Buddhist teachings and references in the novel are lovely, including that of attachment. Yumeko understands the essence of positive relationships with those around her, whereas Tatsumi has been brought up to fear attachments, without an understanding of love for others. His character growth in the novel, due to Yumeko is beautiful.

This is a fantasy novel that had me feeling the magic within. Kagawa not only provided an interesting read, with entertaining characters, but also grately added to my prior knowledge of Japanese legends, along with creating an imaginary world that feels real. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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