Since I completely forgot to do a review last week, I’d love to do two this week. However, I haven’t really finished reading something new, and I’d rather save some more of the older series I’ve read for reviews when I haven’t read something recently. So, instead, I’ll just stick with the one I was planning to do last week.
The last OwlCrate I received had two books in it for me to read and enjoy. Because I have so so many books on my to be read pile, it’s taken me a while to get to just one of them. I’ll get to the other eventually this year, but for now, I recently decided to read one of them, and I was flailing around and so happy with it, so of course it’s going to be the next book I review.
Shadow of the Fox. Okay, it’s already got me with the name. The cover’s beautiful, with a hint of mystery and intrigue. Then I notice it’s by Julie Kagawa? Yep, already invested and sure that I’m going to love it.
I first found Julie Kagawa when I discovered Talon. The concept of dragons in human bodies, infiltrating our world? Beautiful. I loved it so much. Then I discovered her Iron Fey series. I’m a sucker for Fey. Especially a good story of them, which I found this to be. (Haven’t managed to track down the second part of that series though, sadly, so I feel as though I’m left with an itch that needs to be scratched).
I know with my previous review, Girls of Paper and Fire I spent a lot of time happily ranting about the romantic storyline, and how much I loved it, and the representation it offered. I don’t think I went as deeply into how much I loved the Malaysian representation. (Which I did, very much.) I am a huge sucker for diversity. Well, not a sucker. I wouldn’t say that you could write any old thing and have it be diverse and I’d be all for it. That being said, I do generally find myself very excited when I pick up something that’s popular and has a non-caucasian, or non-straight main character. It gets me excited. Needless to say, I was very happy when I found that this book was set in a very Japanese-styled world.
So, sidenote here, I’m a total weeb. I love anime. Not even slightly ashamed to say it. Which may have sealed the fate of my enjoyment of this story. I loved the casual mix-ins of Japanese and English. The writing is in English, but there are small phrases here and there which are Japanese, much as the culture of the world is based on Japan. From kitsune to samurais. The small “arigatou’s” and using “ano” as well or instead of “um” made me strangely happy.
Of course, Japapnese culture is so much more than the language. The lore in the world was absolutely beautiful. Being a huge fan of kitsunes before now, (what’s not to love about mysterious foxes?) having a main character as one was wonderful. What was even better, was how Kagawa managed to stay true to the myths. It can be all too easy to say you like the mischievousness of something, like Fey, dragons, or kitsune, only to cut it out or cool it down because it makes characters less sympathetic to readers.
Yumeko was incredibly sympathetic. That she was raised by monks who tried to encourage her humanity, compared to her natural curiousness and desire to play tricks on people, created a wonderful contrast between those two sides of her. What was even better? Not only were there moments of introspection where she fought against pulling tricks, but she actually pulled tricks.
I loved it so so much. The story was wonderful, the characters had a lot of depth to them and I found them very believable. The world was absolutely beautiful.
I will absolutely most definitely be reading this series again at one point. Though, one thing I will say, which absolutely does not detract in any way from my love of the book, is that I can draw some correlation between Kagawa’s works. To be fair, I mostly only noticed this earlier, and specifically while I was writing this review. I did notice the similarity between her choice in protagonists (typically mischievous non-human species. Although Meghan did start out as human). Then her love interest seems to be rather uptight, drilled into a certain way of life which is very contrary to the female protagonist. Finally, there’s an interesting and funny side character who has some of the more interesting lines at points as they don’t have as much invested in whatever quest the protagonist and love interest are on, but come along anyway. It’s a small thing, and by no means suggests that the stories are the same, though sometimes I enjoy noticing little similarities in an author’s work. It tells you so much about the author themselves.