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Shadow of the Fox

Review

Shadow of the Fox

SHADOW OF THE FOX, by Julie Kagawa, the author of the Talon series, opens a new world of samurai, demons and magic. One hundred decades ago, the Kami Dragon was summoned to grant one wish, plunging Iwagoto into an age of darkness and chaos. The only way to bring the Dragon back and create a new age is to recite the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Yumeko, a half kitsune and half human girl, has lived her whole life in the Silent Winds temple with monks to protect a piece of the Scroll. When demons attack the temple, she escapes with the Scroll and watches her home burn. She meets Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, a hunter who has been ordered to retrieve the scroll at any cost. Yumeko makes a deal with Kage --- to lead him to the scroll in return for an alliance.

"Longtime fans of Julie Kagawa will not be disappointed in this new world...Its smooth writing, interesting characters and thrilling action sequences create the beginning of another excellent series."

The book follows a common theme as the rest of her series, that each dive into different fantastical realms. In this particular series, Kagawa explores the Japanese Empire of Iwagoto. She does a fantastic job of world building. The book is complete with a map and vivid descriptions of each town or forest they walk through. I admire the author’s ability to flow through the locations and scenes and it is clear to see how much thought was put into creating this universe.

There is a mix of different characters, from Yumeko, a timid yet brave and clever girl, to Kage, the fearless and unbeatable samurai, to Okame, the rogue ronin. They all seem to encompass a different stereotype, such as the comedic relief, the valiant hero and the shrewd girl. Besides those certain characteristics, Kagawa creates different sides to the story with the two perspectives of Kage and Yumeko. Their character dynamics run smoothly with the storyline. Yumeko, having never left the temple in her life, is very innocent and knows little about the outside world. Although this can be humorous, the use of her innocence as a joke is overdone as the novel continues. Kage Tatsumi was by far my favorite character as a silent assassin and all-around fierce, hard-core warrior. Kagawa’s descriptions of Tatsumi and his battles are incredibly well written.

It is also clear that the author has done her research on Japanese lore, with the substantial amount of monsters, myths and legends scattered throughout the story. It was interesting to read each battle and see them come to life. We see witches, tree spirits, haunting ghosts, dragons, oni and other beings of this unique world. Even if you are unfamiliar with the terms and folklore, there is a glossary at the end of the book. Kagawa’s detailed descriptions make the novel seem like it could become an anime or a TV series.

I felt like the storyline was almost like a videogame. The characters embark on one main journey and along the way, encounter several side quests to get to the finish. Each battle and adventure is beautifully created with intense imagery. SHADOW OF THE FOX is a fantastic page-turner full of twists and turns.

Previous fans of Julie Kagawa will not be disappointed in this new world. Those who enjoy reading of the Japanese feudal era and its folklore will definitely fall in love with the Empire of Iwagoto. Its smooth writing, interesting characters and thrilling action sequences create the beginning of another excellent series.

Reviewed by Jeremy H., Teen Board Member on October 17, 2018

Shadow of the Fox
by Julie Kagawa