Review | Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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37004954Shadow of the Fox is exactly what an anime would read like if it was converted into a novel.

At least, that’s the feel I got. I don’t watch a lot of anime, so can’t really compare …

(i.e., my sister stopped forcing me to watch with her, given my constant stream of snarky comments.)

Shadow of the Fox takes place in a mythical, Japanese-inspired land where the creatures of myth and legend — gods and spirits and demons — exist and interact with the world. Half-kitsune Yumeko has spent her entire life in a temple away from society … until demons attack and kill her monk guardians. With the help of a ninja demon killer and a disgraced samurai, she travels to the capital city to fulfill a vow and save the world from doom.

It took me a good 50-70 pages to really get into this book, but it was worth the slog: the final product was a fun road-trip style adventure with a colourful cast of characters. We have naïve, optimistic, and warm-hearted Yumeko; the jaded, sarcastic cinnamon bun Okame; and the stoic, damaged, in-dire-need-of-a-hug Tatsumi. Together they travel from misadventure to misadventure … the journey feeling somewhat predictable and scripted — with a fair amount of filler. But then the ending happens … and, oh boy, does it happen.

Where does the “anime” come in?

Most superficially, this book is VERY Japanese-y … not just via the incorporation of Japanese mythology, but use of Japanese words and mini teachable moments in culture/tradition.

What really struck me were the characters. The three mains (and associated cast) all fell into rather-predictable tropes which — even with my limited anime-watching experience — I’ve seen again and again. Likewise with the dialogue, thematic development, and imagery. As I read, I could practically see the characters making those silly over-the-top anime expressions.

Image result for anime facial expressions

All that said, I did enjoy it. It was a good book to unwind with over the winter holidays.

Things I liked:

The Romance. Formulaic? Definitely. But, lord knows, I have a thing for damanged tough guys.

Lady Satomi … pre-epilogue. She was just so perfectly evil! More villains like this, please!

Things I disliked:

The Voice. Each chapter switches between the perspective of Yumeko and Tatsumi: two EXTREMELY different characters in terms of personality, upbringing, and life experience. Despite this, the tone/style of narrative was indistinguishable. I never felt like the character was speaking to me.

The Chapter Formatting. Making the character-confusion worse: the publisher failed to label each chapter with the character’s name. This is a relatively minor formatting feature … but would have provided a cue and saved me from scratching my head for the first 2-3 paragraphs as I tried to figure out who was supposed to be speaking.

The Length. So much unnecessary filler. You could easily cut +100 pages from this book and nobody would notice. (Editors! Do your job!)

Favourite Quote:

It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.

The Details:

  • The Book: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
  • Published: 2018, Harlequin Teen
  • My Copy: Personal copy
  • Read date: December 23-31, 2019
  • Rating/5: 🦊🦊🦊
  • You should read this if you like … Japanese 101 courses
  • Avoid this if you dislike … anime where 90% of the episodes are plotless filler

11 thoughts on “Review | Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa”

  1. Well I have not tried that one so far but it’s on my shelf! Great review and just sorry that it was not a hit for you Em.

    1. Thank-you! 😁 I suppose they can’t all be 5-star books, else those WOW moments wouldn’t be so special! 😊 I think I’ll continue with this series – but will use the library rather than buying copies.

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