Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.
Let me just get the obligatory “I freaking loved this book and read it in a day” comment out of the way. If you’ve read my reviews of Books 1 & 2, you know how much I adore this series. Seriously, you need to go read it.
After you read this review, of course.
And now we can get onto the juicy parts.
Once again, the world building and the characters shine in this narrative. They are absolutely stellar, and hat’s off to Kagawa for such immaculately written and in-depth setting and people. *chef’s kiss*
But my absolute favorite part of this book is the end. I won’t dive too in depth in this review, and spoil it for anyone looking to read it afterward, but let me just say this book has consequences.
Which yeah, makes sense. Actions have consequences. And here, we see the consequences of the choices and paths of each character (both good and bad) play out. I deeply appreciated how Kagawa didn’t shy away from the full breadth of those consequences either. I think it’s so important, especially in YA fiction, to follow through with the consequences of actions. To see the decisions influence the outcome in literature, just as it does in life.
Endings tend to be the hardest thing to write. You’ve hooked the audience’s attention, you’ve given them characters to root for and against, and they’ve journeyed with your characters through thick and thin. Which makes delivering the emotional conclusion, the note of the crescendo you’ve been building toward, one of the hardest things imaginable. Because by that point, people have expectations. They have their own ideas about what they want they ending to be, how they want their own emotional payoff to manifest. Which, unfortunately, leaves the author in a pickle: it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.
And I appreciate the fact that Kagawa didn’t pander to the the most-loved book finish. She didn’t give everyone a squeaky clean ending, with Happily Ever After scrolling on the last scene. She stayed true to the world building she created, and the characters she made, to deliver an ending that I personally believe was the ending this series needed. She remained honorable in her convictions.
Which I found to be wonderful storytelling.
I heartily recommend this series, especially if you’re a fan of Japanese mythology and culture, or even just an anime fan. It won’t disappoint. My only caveat, and it’s such a minor thing, is that I would have liked more character relationship built into this book. I felt the second book skipped it (which it had to, given how the characters ended up at the conclusion of the first book), but this would have been the time to give those relationships center stage for a bit. To really let them shine. While I understand the word count restraints in place, I fell like the book lacked a smidge because it didn’t have that connection like the first one did. Still, it was an excellent book, and a wonderful ending to a stellar series. 4.5 out of 5 stars.