Source: Harlequin Teen – I received a complimentary copy for review purposes, all opinions are my own.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Shadow of the Fox #1
Edition: ebook, 409 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
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.
It’s been a little while since I have read anything by Kagawa, and I’m glad I decided to try her out again all these years later. I was a bit worried that my tastes would have changed too much to allow me to enjoy it, and while I do see areas that I would have loved more all those years ago I still really enjoyed the world she presented here.
Shadow of the Fox is set in a feudal Japan type setting full of samurai, shinobi, yokai, and epic mythology. I’ve been hoping that Kagawa would do a series set in Japan since The Immortal Rules because she really showed off her skill with badass females and awesome yet chilling action-packed moments. She definitely brings that forward with this one. We have three POVs in Shadow, though I will not mention one as it’s tied into a very spoiler heavy part of the book, and each one adds a really interesting angle to the story. Yumeko is our Kitsune main character, who is super mischievous and fun loving. She’s incredibly naive to the world outside of the shrine and has an optimism about her that is just so needed when in a world full of demonic oni and so much bloodshed. Then there is Kage Tatsumi, a samurai from the Kage clan who’s path crosses with Yumeko’s and they find themselves after similar things. He is very reserved and where he is knowledgeable about the world and its horrors, he is new to anything resembling friendship. These little glimpses into each one of their thoughts, especially Tatsumi’s as he has a lot going on, is really awesome. I love the differences between the two, and their growing (albeit slowly) friendship. I personally find myself glad that while you can tell the build-up for the romance is there, it’s not something that simply springs forward early on despite having no real basis.
I will say that my favorite part of this and what I think is the strongest portion is the world building that Kagawa presents. I love Japanese mythology and I’m a little partial to fuedal japan settings steeped in that mythology since that’s basically what I started out on in my childhood. I’ve seen some people say it has Inuyasha vibes and while I do think it didn’t feel like a copy it certainly had that tone. It has that light-hearted build up with unlikely friendships and journeys, but also that darker edge as they fight for their lives against monstrosities. I love the set up of the world and their separation into different elemental lands, and I really just enjoyed the vibrancy in which she paints the scenes. Even the smallest villages were easy for me to imagine.
While I will say I’m a little disappointed in its overall ability to really grip me from the get-go, and it’s somewhat simplistic nature in terms of style and character development, I do think I have enjoyed this quite enough to want to continue. It has that aura of both nostalgia and mystery that makes me really want to see how things go for Yumeko, especially after the rather shocking ending that Kagawa treated us to. I’d say if you are looking for a quick fun read with a different setting, and some really great imagery then Shadow of the Fox is worth checking out!