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, for a few days, I was trying to decide whether to give it 3, or 3.5, or 4 stars. As you can see, I have chosen four stars, mainly because I just grew so attached to the characters I couldn’t give it any less! I loved every single one of them (except for the villains…of course.) I’ll give you a short overview of the story before we move on to the other good stuff (in which I compare the characters to Winnie-the-Pooh characters thanks to my whimsical nature).
Basically, Shadow of the Fox is split into two POVs: Yumeko, a half-kitsune girl who was raised by monks, and Tatsumi, a Kage demonslayer. In the beginning, Yumeko learns that her temple home has been guarding a special scroll that, if in the hands of the wrong people, can lead to catastrophe. Meanwhile Tatsumi is sent there to steal the scroll for the Kage clan.
But! When he arrives, an oni and his minions are already attacking the temple. Yumeko barely escapes with the scroll hidden on her person and the instructions to travel to the capital city to get instructions for a hidden temple where she can hide the scroll…and runs into Tatsumi. They form an unlikely partnership: Tatsumi will protect Yumeko from all kinds of dangerous yokai BUT Yumeko will have to lead him to that hidden temple.
As you can imagine, this was mostly a journey story and I have a bone to pick with it (is that the way you say it?). Don’t get me wrong, journeys are awesome! I enjoy reading them. But in this case, it got slow at some points. Sometimes it even felt to me that it dropped into a “travel a bit, run into some yokai, fight and escape, travel again” pattern.
But I enjoyed every bit of the Japanese mythology incorporated. Like this is the first time I’ve ever seen a book that was heavily inspired by Shinto (At least all the mention of kami, from the major ones to the many, many minor ones and the shrines made me think so.) And I just adored ALL of the main cast for different reasons.
Time for the fun part now!
Yumeko: She’s so sweet that the whole cast (and me) ends up liking her! She’s like the glue that holds them together, and because of that, she most resembles Winnie-the-Pooh. Also, her name makes me think of “dream child” because “yume” means “dream” in English.
Tatsumi: He’s super broody and kind of emotionless and deadly so it’s hard to find someone. I always feel incredibly sorry for him every time he repeats his mantra that he’s a weapon, nothing more! I hate it when humans dehumanize others, including him. I suppose his gloom and pessimism (he’d correct me as realism lol) would make him alike to a darker, infinitely more dangerous Eeyore.
Okame: He’s annoying and rowdy and can be a drunkard, but, heavens, there’s way more to him than that. The fact that he gave me something to laugh about, and his deepest inner self easily titles him as a Tiggur!
Reika: She’s just so cool and kickbutt and awesome! I mean, what can you find not cool about an ofuda-brandishing shrine maiden who takes no nonsense at all and kicks lots of butt with her dog sidekick? I consider her kind of a “mom” of her friend group, so Kanga, I think.
????: I don’t want to reveal a lot about this character because I feel like it’s has mild spoilers so…I’ll just say they make me think of Christopher Robin, or Owl.
Oddly enough, the feels came AFTER I finished reading. Maybe in the chaotic end chapters, I was just racing through and not noticing my emotions very much. Either way, thanks to the cliffhanger and horrible things that happened to a few characters, I can’t wait for the sequel Soul of the Sword.