First of all, let me thank Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for the chance to read and review this book: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
As always, these thoughts are my own.
I give this story 2.5 stars.
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.
So, so confused.
Okay, so to be fair totally up front, I often struggle with names (in this case, Japanese-inspired) that are pretty foreign to me. I am slightly dyslexic, and I have to read carefully. This book tested my patience and reading skills. The first three chapters are all first person and it’s not clear immediately to someone unfamiliar with Japanese culture that each one is from the POV of a different character. Three chapters, three characters, all first person.
I remained confused because, while I was excited about a Japanese inpsired fantasy, I have had very little exposure to Japenese mythology and language and so it was difficult to keep up.
Both of the main characters, Kage Tatsumi and Yumeko basically exist to fall in love. Yumeko is young and mischievous (or so she says) and sweet and naive and Tatsumi is the quintessential tough warrior dude. They, while slightly unique by concession of their setting, are cookie-cutter characters that we’ve seen too many times.
The Story Wanders
We discover right away that there’s a magical scroll that grants wishes (presumably when joined together with all the scattered pieces of itself), and some things happen that send Yumeko on her journey. But then it takes another several hundred pages to actually pursue the scroll. It’s a little like the story wants to be a bunch of small adventure stories about the same characters.
Not a Whole Story, just a Piece
Shadow of the Fox is not a complete story. It doesn’t have a clear beginning, middle, and ending. I’ve noticed this happening a lot in series recently. There’s no conclusion, it just drops off in the middle of a storyline with a cliffhanger and a plea to buy another book. Not a single arc concludes and I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth.
Shadow of the Fox Kindle Book made it Impossible to Refer Back
Maybe it was just my copy of this book, or maybe my Kindle was on the fritz but I know I could have been less confused if I could have just looked back to see ” what was that name again” or “what was that again” or “wow I’ve lost the entire thread of whats happening, lets back up a few hundred pages” but I couldn’t.
I’m confident that a reader familiar with Japanese myth and language would enjoy this story. I’m also of the belief that a hard copy would be much less confusing. In any case, I give this book 2.5 stars because it was at least interesting and felt very fresh and unique. I just wish I had understood what was going on.