From GoodReads: 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.
I received this audiobook via the Sync YA summer program. For the most part, I enjoyed the story. I always love, in particular, when fantasy novels depart from the traditional American/British/French settings and cultures. Yumeko was an interesting character. In part, she’s a well-used trope, a naive girl who has some reason to know nothing about the outside world, and thus learns about the outside world alongside the reader. Despite this being a trope, however, Kagawa’s approach to Yumeko’s journey feels different, as her journey is paired with a set of adventures that read more like parables or fairy tales than simple “learn about the world” moments. It was an interesting way to tell the story, and Yumeko herself was endearing and wonderful.
There were a few things I disliked about the book as well. There’s a long section in the middle that feels too repetitive: travel, adventure, pick up a new member for the group, travel, adventure, pickup a new member…etc. I also thought that for a seasoned warrior for the Shadow Clan, Tatsumi is extremely naive and blind through a big chunk of the story. It’s a quality that makes him interesting but also slightly stretching believability. Lastly, the audio narration (read by Joy Osmanski, Emily Woo Zeller, and Brian Nishii) was not my favorite, as they often used exaggerated accents, inflections, and styles common in YA audiobooks.
However, despite the small negatives, I’m definitely going to be reading the next book. Shadow of the Fox ended on a perfect note – just enough cliffhanger and new information introduced to completely hook me! Soul of the Sword (book 2) is supposed to release later this month, and I can’t wait!!