“…The tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend.”
Shadow of the Fox is a bright, shining light in 2018 fantasy! Friends, I loved this from the very first chapter, and was more captivated than I have been reading any other book this year. Like, go into any bookstore, read the first chapters of this book, and I dare you not to want to immediately buy it. Goosebumps. Tears. Perfection. Those are the three words that come to mind, and I just continued to fall even more in love with this story as it progressed.
This is an ownvoices Japanese inspired fantasy about three people who come from very different backgrounds, but their stories get interwoven regardless of what they wanted. And they are forced to work together, while a demon army is set to destroy everything.
➽ Suki – Her chapters are sprinkled throughout the book, even though I completely believe she is going to play a much bigger role in the upcoming books. Her father is a flute maker who sent her away to become a royal maid so that she could live a good life. Sadly, she now works for one of the cruelest women in all of literature.
“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”
➽ Yumeko – Half kitsune who is very good at illusions! She has lived her entire life with monks in the Silent Winds temple. But her home soon comes under attack by demons, and she is the only hope to save the world, by safely bringing part of an ancient scroll to another hidden temple.
“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.”
➽ Kage – Samurai of the Shadow Clan, and one of the deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. He wields a blade, Hakaimono, that gives him even more power but is constantly testing his willpower. He has been sent on a mission to retrieve that ancient scroll, but instead finds Yumeko and promises to get her to the hidden temple. Little does he know, this little kitsune is holding what he’s after the entire time.
“I am a weapon in the hands of the Kage. My life exists only to be the bearer of Kamigoroshi and to obey the orders of the Shadow Clan.”
And when the scroll is combined together to be whole again, a dragon will rise and the person that summons it will be have any wish they desire granted, as long as their heart and soul are pure and good. If not, well, things are going to get real messy. But needless to say, many people are after these pieces of the scroll so that they can combine them to have their wish granted. And remember, a demon army is trying to end the world, so some people really need their wishes to come true. You know, for the sake of humanity.
One of my favorite things in all of literature is reading about a group of people traveling from place to place, performing smaller quests, while trying to get to their final destination. And friends, that is what Shadow of the Fox is. I fell in love with every new town and every new adventure that Yumeko and Kage experienced together. I loved seeing so much Japanese folklore and mythology celebrated and woven into each town and adventure, too! Seriously, Julie Kagawa blessed us so much with this book! And I loved the few friends and companions that Kage and Yumeko unexpectedly met along the way.
At the heart of this book, is always friendship. And how kindness and unconditional love are two of the most powerful forces in any world. Yumeko and Kage’s dynamic is one so beautiful that I don’t even have words for it. And this is the start of an extremely slow burn romance, but I’m so here for it, you all! They completely stole my heart and captivated me for all 400 pages of this story.
This book also holds a very heavy message about how we always have a choice to do right. No matter what we’ve done in our past, and no matter the sins of our family, we have our own choice to do good or to start doing good. And how sometimes a little kindness can completely change everything. And how it’s never too late to right your wrongs, apologize, and forgive. Hate is a very heavy thing to carry, but so is revenge.
“It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.”
Overall, Julie Kagawa gave me the (ownvoices) Japanese fantasy I’ve been searching my entire life for. I fell so deeply in love with this story, with Julie’s beautiful prose, with these characters, and with all the important messages that were so seamlessly woven in. This will for sure be on my best of 2018 list come December, and the next book for sure is now one of my most anticipated releases for 2019.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content and trigger warnings for graphic violence, graphic murder, graphic death, loss of a loved one, physical abuse, threat of rape, talk of suicide, war themes, and a scene that might be hard for people with arachnophobia (I am sorry, Julie)!