I haven’t been feeling myself for the past three days. I totally hit a sudden rockbottom with reading, and I feel a reading slump is in the making. It’s like my whole body has become this one giant boulder that is barely picking itself up.
I’m trying my best to get out of my stupor but luckily I’ve written this review beforehand and the one and only Julie Kagawa retweeted my tweet about this and I was left hyperventilating for 5 minutes….
Anyway read the review, read the book, and I’ll come back to you guys full force!
Description Summary | A riveting tale inspired by Japanese myths and legends with nice characters and an epic plot. Think the myths and monsters found in Studio Ghibli films x the dialogue of Marvel films.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
In the empire of Iwagoto, there once was a man who possessed the “Dragon Scroll”. It is said that who possesses this scroll and is pure of heart shall be granted his greatest desire from the Great Dragon – an immortal kami, a god. Legend says that the scroll has long been lost and torn apart, hidden from prying and greedy eyes in order to prevent the disaster that happened many years ago when Iwagoto was left in bloodshed and ruin due to one man’s wish corrupting his heart.
Yumeko is half kitsune – half human and half fox spirit – raised by her foster family; the monks at The Silent Winds Temple, her mischievous tricks may have driven them mad but she loved them all the same. When a sinister evil takes over the temple, destroying it in a pit of flames, a long kept secret is revealed to Yumeko. The legend of the Dragon Scroll is real, and the temple is hiding one piece of it. Her mission: safely keep the scroll piece hidden until she makes it to the Steel Feather Temple and warn the other monks of the upcoming danger.
Tatsumi the Kage Demonslayer is a samurai part of the Shadow Clan, one out of the eight other influential samurai clans of Iwagoto. Destined to carry the cursed blade Kamigoroshi, he too is sent on a mission: to retrieve the scroll piece at The Silent Winds Temple. However he doesn’t find the scroll, instead he finds Yumeko.
Yumeko needs to get to the temple but can’t do it alone, having a samurai by her side would definitely help even if it means lying and hiding the scroll piece. Tatsumi has a duty to his clan and shouldn’t waste his time on a peasant girl however she’s the key to taking him to the alleged temple with the scroll.
But what happens when the heartless assassin and demon slayer starts feeling? What happens when the clever fox runs out of clever tricks? And more importantly what do you do when you’re caught between duty and betrayal?
When I first started reading this I almost set it up for failure, not going to lie. I didn’t really like the prologue and felt the ending of that prologue a bit rushed. Then the first two chapters was a slow burner for me, and I wasn’t grasped by the story and characters in it….yet.
Then everything changes, this slow buildup set up for a mirage of cities and landscapes that you venture through with your two main MCs (Yumeko and Tatsumi) on an ultimate quest filled with man-eating centipedes, resurrected crows, blood witches, and demons. You pick up wonderful characters on the way that add so much more dynamic and excitement into the mix.
You’re never tired or bored with this book, there is a clear end point and a start point so no surprises there plot wise however it’s this whole sense of adventure and espionage and secrecy that you follow with both characters especially since both MCs have something to hide from each other and following their conflicted feelings always puts you on an edge as a reader because you’re just waiting for something to happen.
Setting/ World Building
I absolutely loved how Julie Kagawa took the inspiration of Japanese folklore and culture. The culture wasn’t “included” into the book as an add on via little references here and there. Nope the culture was the epicentre of the book and using the terminology/language throughout truly made this an authentic experience (for me personally). I love the blend between real and non real elements of the culture. And even the “fantasy” terms coined by Kagawa did not sound “off” they meshed really well with the already existing terminology that I as a reader couldn’t make out the difference. Weak fantasy terms are such a pet peeve to me, so Kagawa did fantastic on that part.
Speaking of our MCs, I really liked them. Yumeko wasn’t this simpleton village girl who just followed aimlessly nor was she this reckless rebel who’s out of control. I actually love level minded heros/heroines; not everyone has to be fiery and feisty.
Tatsumi is one of the most unique “bad boy” MCs I’ve ever read of. It’s so unique to witness a character who truly feels nothing to develop emotions and not even realize what they are. I also like that he isn’t this brooding asshole; despite being a loner he’s actually a decent person who kept promises and cared.
Next Book Wishes?
I wish the map had more detail. It deserves to be richer because you have a wide array of cities and locations, and it gives a better sense of place.
I also wish Yumeko had this “big” moment. In the synopsis and in the book we’re told that she’s the “chosen one” who’ll make a great stand against evil yet I didn’t get that here. I was waiting for the entirety of the book for her to unleash her Kitsune powers but unfortunately it didn’t happen for me. I’m only hoping I’ll get that in the next book and hopefully we’ll get to see the depth and strength of Yumeko’s powers.
This book actually gave me a new profound appreciation of Asian cultures and in particular the Japanese culture. I honestly cannot wait till I get my hands on the next books of this series and see where the story picks up! I feel like this time we’ll get to know more about our side characters and I’m ecstatic about that. I feel like we didn’t know much about them in this book.
Do I recommend? Yes, a hearty book that promises a lot!
One thought on “Review | Asian Mythology : Shadow of the Fox”