The second book in the Shadow of the Fox series sees Yumeko and friends try to complete their original quest while still hoping to rescue Tatsumi from being possessed by Hakaimono. During the battle at Satome’s castle, Yumeko’s real nature was revealed. Tatsumi was so shocked and betrayed that he let his emotions overwhelm him allowing Hakaimono – the demon imprisoned in the sword Kamigoroshi – to possess his body.
Now Hakaimono is free to ravage the land, wreaking his vengeance on the Shadow Clan. But he can still be killed thanks to his mortal form and so he seeks a way to return to his true oni body. The Kage Clan nip at his heels, desperate to kill him – and his host – and return Hakaimono back to Kamigorishi.
Meanwhile, Yumeko, Okame, Daisuke, Reika, Mast Jiro and the two dogs must navigate the intricate schemes of the Shadow Clan and travel to the Steel Feather Temple to deliver the scroll piece. But with the chaos of Hakaimono other demons crawl out of the shadow, new enemies rise and Iwagoto is more dangerous than ever especially for the group travelling with the world’s most precious treasure.
This book built on the themes and characters well and I loved seeing more of Iwagoto, especially the Kage Clan. It was fascinating to see this literally shadowed place that produced such dangerous, emotionless killers and it definitely lived up to the hype. I was desperate to learn more about Lady Hanshou, the mysterious Clan leader. Daisuke was great at showing the intricate politics and social etiquette of the courts – he continually returned one witty, veiled insult for another – and I enjoyed watching him face off with the various nobles he encountered, even the snooty Kage nobility (I was surprised such a military-centric clan even has nobles).
The torment poor Tatsumi endured while inside Hakaimono was heart-breaking, especially to see him suffer such torture simply because he allowed himself to feel. Though I must admit Hakaimono’s perspective on the various oni, yurei and yokai were fascinating. Their continued struggle, and later battle of wills, was fascinating and really made the climax even more tense and shocking. Plus it was entertaining to watch their two goals – kill Tatsumi’s friends or help them – paired with the legendary struggle of human spirit versus demonic continue from the first instant to the very last.
We learned more about each of Yumeko’s friends and I loved the layers they each had. Daisuke and Okame were my favourite side characters and I loved learning more about them and watching the two completely opposing characters interact. Well, my other favourite side characters were Chu and Ko – who wouldn’t love cute little dogs that transform into enormous battle-ready beasts! There were a few twists and surprises with the characters, which I really enjoyed, and there was one that had me gaping then screaming with joy.
Suki has joined up with the strange, mysterious man, Lord Seigetsu. He was odd, he knew so much about everyone in Iwagoto and showed such a distinct interested in Yumeko and her friends. Even dangerous oni and yokai seemed to fear him and I couldn’t help but wonder who – or what – he was and why he cared. Along with Suki he is accompanied by a small, one-eyed demon named Taka. He was cute and naïve and so loyal to his master. It was intriguing to see how Seigetsu, Taka and Suki would impact on the story.
As always I really loved how Yumeko and Tatsumi have such a strong, unbreakable bond – even separated by thousands of miles and demonic possession. It was truly epic how they still fought for each other, especially how Yumeko, a small half-kitsune, was willing to stand up to the powerful and monstrous First Oni. One of the main reasons I love their relationship is that both are so naïve when it comes to relationships and the fact that they didn’t just instantly love or feel attracted to the other, they don’t even kiss! It was a fantastic change to standard YA books, and I love how realistic it was, especially given both character’s backgrounds.
As always with Kagawa’s books, I loved it and it is definitely my favourite series by her and is one of my all-time favourite series! The mythology is straight out of Japanese legends and I loved seeing them used in a modern-day version. Kitsunes are one of my top five mythological creatures and Yumeko is great at embodying the mischievous, fun-loving nature of the fox yokai. I give it 5/5 and am so very excited I have a signed copy of both of books in this series!