“Many would consider what they do impossible, and yet, they still complete their tasks without fail, because they simply…start.”
Once Every Thousand Years…
Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns…and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near…and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret.
Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune shapeshifting powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has…and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll.
A wish will be granted and a new age will dawn.
DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are subject to change between now and the final release.
EXPECTED OCTOBER 2, 2018
TW: blood, violence
This book was STUNNING. I mean, I had high hopes going in just from that gorgeous (and slightly sinister) cover, and Shadow of the Fox delivered, no bones about it. It’s a richly developed fantasy with high stakes, a wonderful world, and a main character who absolutely stole my heart. I was so engrossed in reading it that it was almost 2:30 in the morning before I put it down!
I think Yumeko was the main draw for me, though. From the start, I really loved her. A half-human, half-kitsune girl raised among monks all her life, she’s thrust headlong into protecting a sacred relic from forces that aim to misuse its power. By all means, she should be terrified and overwhelmed, totally out of her depth. And sometimes she really is. But she remains compassionate and clever and my heart was just SO FULL with love for her. I adore heroines who can be clever and caring without seeming like pushovers, and the fact that Yumeko was also just a bit of a trickster (by virtue of her kitsune illusion magic especially) really appealed to me. Usually, if a character is making harmless trouble and pulling pranks in a book, it’s a male character, but here, Yumeko gets to tease and be playfully obnoxious without being irritating. She was honestly a joy to read about, and, I think I’ll be a huge fan of her for years to come. She’s rocketed up into my list of favorite characters.
I enjoyed Tatsumi’s POV as well, though not as much as Yumeko’s. Because of his tie to his demon-possessed sword, he can’t show emotion without risking the demon’s release, and that made for phenomenal internal tension as the story progressed. Still, I didn’t enjoy his chapters nearly as much because he couldn’t be as emotional as Yumeko, and he was so careful and controlled that I kept wanting more of Yumeko’s quick thinking and slightly impulsive actions.
And the pacing! Oh boy, I was worried when this started to shape up as a traveling quest sort of book, because those are so often DAYS OF TRAVEL, followed by TRAINING MONTAGE, followed by UNRESOLVED ROMANTIC TENSION, followed by MORE TRAVEL, and so on. Pretty standard formula, and pretty boring. But this was anything BUT boring. The obstacles as the characters traveled were vibrant and dangerous and clever (and the fight scenes! beautifully written), and there were no chapters that just felt like endless traveling with nothing exciting going on. Every scene contributed to moving the story forward in a dynamic way, and I was hooked. I kept telling myself “one more chapter, then go to bed,” but then I JUST KEPT READING until I was done. Again, I finished at 2:30 am, so that should tell you something about how much I enjoyed it.
Another thing I loved was the world, especially the use of Japanese folklore. There were yokai everywhere, of all varieties, and their integration with the human components of the story was seamless. It gave the world a magical cast (as did the actual magic, of course), and since I love reading about mythology and folklore, I was excited to recognize some of the yokai and to be introduced to others. As the series goes forward, I’m sure other yokai will be introduced, whether as plot points or key characters, and I’m looking forward to it immensely.
My single issue with the book comes down to a plot problem. The whole book revolves around Yumeko keeping her relic away from harm and delivering it to safety, because it could bring about terrible things if it falls into the wrong hands. No one seems to want to use it for good, though, or have a reason why it should be preserved, so…why not just destroy it? It’s one of three pieces, and I get the sense the other two are useless without it, and the end of the world would be a lot farther away if one of the pieces were destroyed.
But other than that, I was completely and totally enamored with Shadow of the Fox, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a stunning, exciting fantasy adventure. Make sure to catch it when it arrives on October 2 this year, and once you’ve read it, keep an eye out for the sequel, The Demon of the Blade!