Book Review: Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox Book 1) by Julie Kagawa

Half-kitsune Yumeko has lived her whole life in the temple where she was raised, until one night demons attack and she flees, the sole survivor, with a mission to deliver part of a special scroll to another temple where it can be protected. Tatsumi, an assassin sent to steal the scroll, believes Yumeko that it was sent away and agrees to protect her on her journey in exchange for information. Although they have opposing goals, they go on their journey together dealing with secrets, demons, yokai, strangers, and their own feelings along the way.

Book Review: Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox Book 1) by Julie Kagawa | reading, books, book reviews, high fantasy, young adult
Title: Shadow of the Fox
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 416
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

What do you get when you take a naive half-kitsune whose never left her temple and a stoic assassin and send them on a journey together through a Japanese-inspired setting that’s filled with yokai, demons, and shenanigans?

A book that is a surprising amount of fun!

It took me a bit to warm up to this book, but once I did, as I said, it ended up being surprisingly fun, despite the seriousness and danger of some of the scenes and situations. It reminded me of the movie Tangled, which is one of my favorites. It had this kind of zany road trip feel with all the shenanigans the characters got into during their travels and the way they kept picking up stragglers and adding more people to their odd little group along the way. Granted they were traveling by foot and most of their shenanigans involved fighting for their lives against murderous supernatural beings, and things did get more serious and heavy at the end, but still. Yumeko’s playfulness, innocence, and wonderment at everything she experienced, Okame’s debauchery and sarcasm, and Tatsumi’s sighs of resignation and begrudging acceptance of his role as the responsible one made the whole thing lighthearted and a pleasure to read.

My favorite thing was the characters and the dynamics between them. Yumeko was adorable, and I loved her. She was playful because of her fox nature, and she had never left her temple before, so she was really enthusiastic about things she was experiencing out in the world. She also was brave and fought when she needed to, but she was kind and took the peaceful road whenever possible in confrontations.

Tatsumi grew on me as I got to understand him more. He was literally trained to suppress his emotions, and that can be a hard kind of character for me to like because I can’t connect to those who have no emotions, but I felt horrible for him, and I liked seeing his struggle when he did start to feel things.

As soon as Okame was introduced, I wanted him to be part of the story, so I’m glad that he was. Okame was like 90% awful, but the other 10% was sarcastic and entertaining and useful in a fight, and I couldn’t help but like him. And in a way, I kind of understand why he was the way he was, and I’m curious to know his story.

Daisuke had some odd pasttimes, but he was likeable. I’ll just leave it at that and let you get to know him for yourself.

Another thing I really liked was that I finally got to read about a kitsune! I know barely anything about kitsune, but I enjoyed this author’s portrayal nonetheless. There were a lot of other supernatural beings too (all based on Japanese mythology), which was really cool.

Last but not least, I can’t say for sure because I don’t know much about this, but it seemed like the story was really immersed in Japanese culture. The characters, the society, the settings, the language, the beliefs, the supernatural creatures.

Honestly, I don’t even have any complaints. I loved the characters and their dynamics, the Japanese setting, the supernatural beings, and the story. This was a great book, and I had a lot of fun reading it! I think the next book might have more intensity and heaviness than this one, but I’m happy to follow these characters wherever their journey leads them next.


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  1. Greg

    Ooh this sounds fun. Kitsune! And a Japanese inspired setting. Not to mention the road trip feel that you mention, which makes me even more interested. That and the humor it mixed in with the seriousness. I haven’t read a Julie Kagawa book yet…

    1. Lindsi

      GREG. I’m going to need you to stop whatever it is you’re doing and read a Julie Kagawa book! She’s one of my all-time favorite authors, and you need her books in your life. The Iron Fey series is amazing, but I think you might enjoy her vampire books a little more…

      I just had Deja vu, so clearly this was meant to be. Have you ever heard that Deja vu means you’re on the right path in life? It’s supposed to mean your decisions and choices are lining up in exactly the right way, so you’re seeing the life you were destined to live? I always thought that explanation was interesting.

        1. Lindsi

          YES! The Immortal Rules! I’ve definitely read the first book, and I think the second. I really think it’s something you’d enjoy!

      1. Greg

        I am stopping EVERYTHING and purchasing a Kagawa book right now haha! Seriously though- like Kristin said- I didn’t know she wrote vamps? And Iron Fey just SOUNDS good, frankly. That sounds almost… steampunk-ish? I must check it out!

        I did NOT know that about deja vu. I just thought it was oh I feel like I’ve been here or done this before. Which, let’s face it, is freaky enough! But *gulp* what IF we are experiencing past lives, or we’ve taken a different but similar path, or whatever? Is deja vu life’s way of telling us we’re doing something right?

          1. Lindsi

            The Immortal Rules is the first book in her vampire series — it’s also dystopian, which was interesting. Humans are scarce, I believe. It’s been a few years… I know she’s written Talon (the first book in a series about dragons). They’re like changelings, sort of…

            The Iron Fey series is seriously good. Like, I want to re-read it just from talking about it! Let me know what you think!!

            Right?? What if Deja vu is a warning, or an alert, that tells us we’re on the right path? I know people who haven’t experienced the sensation in years, so what if that means they’ve strayed from what was planned? It’s already a weird feeling, like you said, but what if it meant something else?

            1. Greg

              Okay first of all, someone needs to write that story- about deja vu. I love the idea that it’s like hints from a life path we can’t entirely see? Or maybe a picture into an alternate reality where another “us” made a similar decision? Like, you know, the theory that there are alternate realities where every time we make a decision a new reality branches off?

              I feel like dystopian plus vampire would be amazing- I’m not sure I’ve read that combo? Okay you have me seriously geeked about the Immortal Rules!

              1. Greg

                Oh I just read further and see that Kristen kinda already made that point about other timelines. Oops. I guess we’re all thinking along the same lines here. 🙂

                1. Kristen Burns

                  I once had a deja vu moment and then I had a “memory” of something that didn’t happen but totally could’ve in another reality that branched off differently. I’m still weirded out by it lol.

                  1. Greg

                    It is a trip. I’ve had that too, or something similar. Like I remembered a memory except it DIDN’T happen- but it FELT like a real memory. WEIRD. Hard to explain, but yeah… I love the idea though that another “me” DID have that memory, and maybe it was just a moment where our realities sorta “collided”?

                    1. Kristen Burns

                      It really is a trip. Like, I swear I remember it, but there’s no way it could’ve happened. Who knows, maybe there really are other timelines out there…

    2. Kristen Burns

      It is! And yes, kitsune! Tbh idk if I’ve ever actually read a road trip book, but that was the best description I could think of lol. I don’t know what any of her other books are like, but I’d rec this one 🙂

  2. Deborah Adams

    I love Julie Kagawa! I’ll have to pick it up. Your description gave me a lot of Tangled vibes which sounds fun 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually had a line in the review that said it reminded me a lot of Tangled, but I took it out because I didn’t know if it was a good idea to make comparisons. Now I’m thinking I should put it back lol. But I guess my review portrayed my thoughts well if you still got that vibe!

  3. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Love the sound of the Japanese-inspired setting. So unique. Yumeko’s prior seclusion had to make for some interesting happenings/conversation and I love the way you make it sound so fun, even with the whole people-trying-to-kill-them thing.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Her naivete made her a really endearing character! And honestly “surprisingly fun” is the best way I can describe this because I didn’t expect that either with all the danger and stuff lol.

  4. Lindsi

    I’m so happy you enjoyed this one! This is the first review I’ve seen for it, which was lovely, and I’ve been curious. It’s one of my most anticipated reads, because I adore Julie Kagawa and her books. They’re some of my all-time favorites! I was planning on starting this one soon and now I’m looking forward to it even more. I also like that you compared their journey to that of Tangled – – hehe. The gecko? Iguana? Chameleon? He and the horse were my favorite characters.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I’ve never read her other books, but I definitely enjoyed this one! I hope you like it too! Although there are no animal sidekicks in this one, just entertainingly odd people lol.

        1. Kristen Burns

          Lol that would’ve been fun. There are couple creatures that join her group toward the end, so maybe there will be some animal sidekicks in the next book.

  5. Daniela Ark

    oh so glad to heat it is fun! I want to read it so badly!! Soooo… is this the book you left me hanging with on your last visit to my blog?? LOL
    Since I read Flame in the Myst I’m craving more Japanese culture and mythology 🙂

    I’m worry when I hear YOU say “it took me a bit to warm up” oh oh I can small a DNF for me miles away 🙂 LOL

    1. Kristen Burns

      If you want more Japanese mythology, then you might really like this one! Lol you’ll just have to give it a chance instead of DNFing right away. I left you hanging on my last visit? I have no idea what you’re talking about. You should know by now I can’t remember the things I comment lol.

  6. ShootingStarsMag

    Okay, I kind of love that you said this reminds you of Tangled. I get what you mean, and it makes me so curious now! I’m glad this one grew on you after the “rough” start if you will.


  7. Karen

    I wasn’t interested in this at all but I might have to borrow the copy I sent to Lindsi when she’s done lol

    I’ve read a few of her books and they didn’t work for me (sorry Lindsi!) but this sounds like something I might enjoy.

    The idea of a main character that’s joyful and playful interests me.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh no, you sent it away too soon, haha. This was my first Kagawa book, so I can’t compare it to her others. I just know that I really liked this one!

  8. Bookworm Brandee

    Wow! I’ll have to find this one. I think it’s great that Kagawa did so well portraying all the wonder Yumeko would feel seeing the world for the first time. 🙂 It seems she did well with character development as well as the world building and I haven’t read too many books with Japanese culture. I’m so happy you stuck with this one and it ended up being a winner, Kristen. Fun review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      The characters really made the book, but I definitely also really enjoyed all the Japanese culture and mythology! Thanks, I hope you like it too if you try it!

  9. Sam@WLABB

    I love Kagawa and was really interested in this one, because she incorporated Japanese mythology. This is a rather glowing review too, so – YEAH! Glad you like it!

  10. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Glad you enjoyed it! I have to say it’s awesome that the book features Kitsune because I feel like that’s a supernatural I’ve never seen in books before so getting to explore both a character who is one but also the mythology of them is pretty cool.

  11. Lola

    This sounds like a fun read. And I can imagine it would be interesting to see how the half kitsune who never left the temple experiences everything. She sounds like a great character. The road trip type of plot line sounds fun too. That does sound great how Tatsumi slowly begins to experience emotions. I have read a few books about kitsune, but not a lot. I have read a bunch of books with Japanese setting or mythology, which can be great to read about.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It really was! Her character was so cute. I know there are at least a few kitsune books out there, that’s cool that you’ve actually read some. And oh yeah, that’s right, you do read a lot of books with a Japanese setting and mythology!

  12. Olivia Roach

    I honestly can’t believe that I still haven’t read a Julie Kagawa book before. I know how much people enjoy them and have read so many positive reviews so I really need to get around to it! I have to admit I’m a bit wary of the main character who has no emotions — only because that really doesn’t work for me when I read it usually. If I try this author I don’t think I’ll START with this one, but maybe it would be good for later down the line when I’m already familiar with her writing?

    1. Kristen Burns

      This was my first! So I can’t say whether the other books would be better, just that I really enjoyed this one and wasn’t bothered by the character who blocked his emotions.