Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review and Blog Tour participation.
Publish Date: March 31, 2020
A Special Thank you to Harper Collins, Harlequin Trade Publishing, Inkyard Press, and Julie Kagawa for the amazing opportunity to be a part of the 2020 YA Spring Reads Blog Tour!
All is lost.
To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.
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 to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this 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.
When I first received this ARC I actually hadn’t read any of this series yet. I had the first book, Shadow of the Fox, sitting on my shelf but for lack of time I hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Then I saw the opportunity to grab Night of the Dragon and I thought, no better sign to get on this series than to join the blog tour! So here we are! And I am so glad I made the decision because what an amazing journey it was to get here. These books are fantastic and from the first to the last I was swept away to the land of Kitsune, evil demons trapped in swords, and a magic scroll to summon a harbinger of wishes that can change the fate of the world. I loved every minute, every detail, every bit of character and world development that transported me too another world completely. The characters I fell in love with, the land was lush and magical, and above all there was such sweet romance holding it all together.
Starting right where the second book ends, we begin book three by jumping right back into the action. There is no time to waste as our band of unlikely heroes must do all that they can to save the world from the Master of Demons making a wish to end the world as they know it. So off they are on yet another journey to put an end to the chaos that they unwittingly unleashed. Just one problem, the demon Hakaimono has been released from the sword, and is now sharing a soul with Kage Tatsumi and they aren’t really sure who it is they are putting their trust in to help them achieve this impossible mission. But with the ever positive and lucky demeanor of Yumeko, they trust him anyway and set out to stop the madman before its too late.
I found that I actually loved how no matter what Yumeko always seems to be able to sooth the savage beast. She finds a way to get even a demon to love her and fight for her and the constant struggle within Tatsumi finally ceases once he realizes that his life belongs to her no matter what. Every single person in her group knows that they are with her to the end, and there’s something about that undying loyalty that moves me to want to jump into the pages and join their crew and fight for something to believe in so strongly as well. Its a deep emotion and you feel it bleeding off the pages throughout this entire installment in this series. These friends that Yumeko has made along the way believe in her with their entire beings and it brings a tear to my eye to think of it even now. I love when a book can bring about these intense emotions that sit with you long after the story is over and that is exactly the case here. I still feel like I’ve been to hell and back with these characters and I would fight to my last breath to keep them all safe and happy.
Not only that, but the action scenes. OMG. They suck you in and you can see each move as if it was a movie playing before your eyes. There was never a dull moment throughout this entire book. I had to stop at one point and think to myself, my gosh how much more can these poor characters go through, because they had literally been through hell. It was a whirlwind from the first to last page that swept me away and refused to put me back down until my face was streaked with tears and my eyes hurt from reading so fiercely for hours on end.
The romance in these is so subtle and sweet that it is like honey to a sore throat. While constantly bouncing from one battle to the next, its like a cool breeze on a spring day brushing across your skin to relieve your senses and give you a bit of reprieve. Its not overdone, nor does it feel forced. There is a steady buildup throughout the books that leads to a real and emotional connection between the characters that inevitably turns into love. I find it perfect and cheesy enough to sooth my hopelessly romantic heart. I couldn’t get enough of each romance and thought that they all fit perfectly with the story. There were times when a single line would choke me up so badly I had to stop and let it sink in before continuing to read. I LOVE THIS LOVE!
To wrap it all up, I thought that this series was amazing. five out of five stars all the way around. I will definitely be diving into some of Kagawa’s other books now that I know I’m a fan of her writing. Its sad to think that just as I found out what an amazing series this is, its also already over… but there’s nothing saying I can’t start it from page one and read it all over again. (which will most likely be the case- they are just that good!!) I have already been recommending these to my other reader friends who have yet to jump on the bandwagon and can’t wait to gush about all the crazy parts and swoon over the romantic parts! I am so happy I took the time to give these a chance and hope that if you are considering them as well then this review will convince you to take the leap. its definitely worth it!
Excerpted from Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa. © 2020 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.
One thousand years ago
In the long years of his existence, the number of times he had been summoned from Jigoku could be counted on one claw.
Other demon lords had been summoned before. Yaburama. Akumu. The oni lords were too powerful not to have some en-terprising blood mage attempt a contract with them, though such rituals often ended badly for the arrogant human who thought they could enslave an oni lord. The four of them were, admit-tedly, a proud bunch, and did not take kindly to an insignificant mortal attempting to bend them to their will. They humored the blood mage long enough to hear what the human was offering, and if it did not interest them, or if the mage foolishly tried to assert dominance, they would rip him apart and do what they pleased in the mortal realm until they were sent back to Jigoku.
It had always amused Hakaimono when a mortal tried to summon him. Especially that moment when they gazed upon him for the first time and fully realized what they had done.
Narrowing his eyes, he gazed around, peering through smoke and ignoring the brief feeling of vertigo that always accompanied being dragged from Jigoku into the mortal realm. A growl of murderous annoyance rumbled in his throat. Already, he was not in the best of moods. Akumu had been scheming again, trying to weaken Hakaimono’s forces behind his back, and he had been on his way to deal with the devious Third General when black fire had erupted over his skin, words of blood magic echoing in his head as he abruptly found himself in the mortal realm. Now he stood in the center of a ruin, broken walls and shattered pillars surrounding him, the scent of death thick on the air, and contemplated squeezing the head of the mage responsible until it popped like an egg in his claws.
The stones under his feet were sticky and had a sweet, coppery smell he recognized instantly. Lines of blood had been painted over the ground in a familiar circle, with words and sigils of power woven in a complex pattern. A summoning circle, and a powerful one at that. Whomever the blood mage was, they had done their research. Though it wouldn’t save them in the end.
The First Oni looked down. A woman stood at the edge of the blood circle, black robes and long hair seeming to blend into the shadows. She clutched a knife in slender fingers, her pale arm covered in red to the elbow.
A chuckle escaped him. “Well, don’t I feel important,” he said, crouching down to better see the woman. She gazed coolly back. “Summoned by the immortal shadow herself. I am curious, however.” He raised a talon, watching the human over curved black claws the length of her arm. “If you rip off an immortal’s head, do you think it will die?”
“You will not kill me, First Oni.” The woman’s voice was neither amused nor afraid, though the certainty in it made him smirk. “I am not so foolish as to attempt a binding, nor will I ask much of you. I have but a single request, and after that, you are free to do what you like.
“Oh?” Hakaimono chuckled, but admittedly, he was curi-ous. Only the very desperate, foolish or powerful called on one of the four oni generals, and only for the most ambitious of re-quests. Like destroying a castle, or wiping out an entire gen-eration. The risk was too great for anything less. “Let’s hear it then, human,” he prompted. “What is this one task you would have me undertake?”
“I need you to bring me the Dragon scroll.”
Hakaimono sighed. Of course. He had forgotten it was that time again in the mortal world. When the great scaly one him-self would rise to grant a wish to an insignificant, short-lived human. “You disappoint me, mortal,” he growled. “I am not a hound that fetches upon command. You could have gotten the amanjaku to retrieve the scroll for you, or one of your own human warrior pets. I have been called on to slaughter armies and tear strongholds to dust. Fetching the Dragon’s Prayer is not worth my time.”
“This is different.” The woman’s voice was as unruffled as ever. If she knew she was in danger of being ripped apart and devoured by an annoyed First Oni, she did not show it. “I have already sent my strongest champion to retrieve the scroll, but I fear he has betrayed me. He wants the power of the Dragon scroll for himself, and I cannot let the Wish slip away now. You must find him and take back the scroll.”
“One human?” Hakaimono curled a lip. “Not much of a challenge.”
“You do not know Kage Hirotaka,” the woman said quietly. “He is the greatest warrior the Empire of Iwagoto has seen in a thousand years. He is kami-touched, but also trained in the way of the samurai. His talents with both blade and magic are so great, the emperor himself praised his achievements. He has killed men, yokai and demons in waves, and will be perhaps the single greatest opponent you have ever faced, Hakaimono.” “I very seriously doubt that.” The First Oni felt a smirk cross his face as he breathed in the blood-scented air. “But now, I’m intrigued. Let’s see if this champion of shadow is as good as you say. Where can I find this demonslaying human?” “Hirotaka’s estate lies outside a village called Koyama, ten miles from the eastern border of Kage territory,” the woman re-plied. “It’s not hard to find, but it is rather isolated. Aside from Hirotaka’s men and servants, you won’t be opposed. Find Hi-rotaka, kill him and bring the scroll to me. Oh, and one more thing.” She raised the knife, observing the bloody, glittering edge. “I cannot have anyone suspecting me of blood magic. Not now, when the night of the Wish is so close.” Her black eyes rose to his, narrowing sharply. “There can be no witnesses, Hakaimono. No survivors. Kill everyone there.”
“I can do that.” A slow grin spread across the oni’s face, and his eyes gleamed red with bloodlust. “This will be fun.”
He would come to regret those words more than any other in his existence.
Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.
Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.
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Author website: http://juliekagawa.com/