*Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Let’s jump right into this shall we? Because this book doesn’t waste any breath throwing you into the mysterious and immersive world of Japanese myths. With an ominous tone, which foreshadows some of the darker themes, the scene is set. As someone who is fascinated by legends of kitsune, I found this more than lived up to any conception I had of it. I adored how distinctive stories, embedded in a rich culture, were threaded through the narrative to create an exquisite reading experience.
One of the most effective ways this was achieved was through the fantastic characterisation of the main character- the girl who is half human, half mythical fox. Her voice was strong and had a wonderful comedic edge, which made the mood feel as perfectly balanced as a sword in the hand of a Samarai. Yumeko’s way of talking had a unique sense of innocence, while maintaining a humorous edge. Though she felt reminiscent of Puck from Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, she was also entirely distinctive and it felt great to have such a joyful character in the starring role for a change.
In case that wasn’t enough, comic relief came through in many of the other characters and really bounced off the more serious figures in the story. Through this contrast, the more murky personalities had a greater chance to shine. There were times when it did feel a bit headhoppy for me, but I also appreciated how every character- from Okame to the Kage warrior- had such strong and individual voices that this didn’t matter.
In terms of the rest of the writing, there was plenty of stunning imagery to maintain the illusion of this fantastical world. I especially appreciated how some images were cast against others in dichotomous harmony. Some descriptions were a tad samey- particularly since I saw exact words and images repeated on the same page- which, may seem like a nitpicky point (cos it is), made some parts feel repetitive. All in all, though, there were some standout lines in the book and the prose had a life of its own.
Though at times the story felt somewhat generic, the tension did climb towards the end. As much as I liked the way it started, the conclusion was even better. In a sensational finale, the book both closed a lot of chapters, but also opened up a path for new adventures. I for one can’t wait for the sequel!
I’ll admit, I’ve had my ups and downs with Kagawa over the years- but one can’t argue that any of her books are ever the same. Sure, she plays to some of her strengths here, and that works a charm. Yet what’s really remarkable here is what she does differently. For all the teeny tiny flaws, this was a definite return to form for an excellent author. So all that’s left to say is I WANT MORE!
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Okey dokes, before I go, I wanted to add an update for the lovely Mim Inkling’s bookish bingo (cos this is for that and there’s still time to play!). I’ve kind of focused on this for the beginning of this month, so here’s some additions to add to what I’ve read: Comedy of Errors, Academic Curveball, Secret Countess, Twits, Warriors: Into the Wild.
Alrighty- who else has read this? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!