Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – A Review


Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Fantasy | Young Adult | Japanese-Inspired
Published by Harlequin Teen
Released October 2nd, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars


I’m very, very behind on reviews. I decided to re-read Shadow of the Fox during FantasyAThon Round 2 back in December. One of the prompts for the readathon was to finish a fantasy that you started but didn’t finish. I had attempted to read this book initially after receiving it in an OwlCrate around the time that it was released. I didn’t get that far into it that first time and eventually DNF-ed it. It wasn’t that the book was bad, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy novel at the time.

I am so glad that I picked Shadow of the Fox up again because the second time around, I loved it. I just got the sequel, Soul of the Sword, from the library. The third and final book, Night of the Dragon, is coming out at the end of March 2020.

Julie Kagawa.jpg
Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox is the first book in a Japanese-inspired young adult fantasy trilogy. Our heroine is Yumeko, a teenager who is half human and half kitsune (the Japanese word for fox). She has fox magic and is being raised at the Silent Winds temple by a group of monks.

The Silent Winds temple holds a secret that Yumeko is unaware of, until one day they’re attacked by a horde of demons and the head Monk sends her away with a scroll that she has to save, or else the world will be plunged into darkness and evil.

As Yumeko flees, she meets a samurai named Kage Tatsumi, and they form a pact to travel together. Kage has secrets of his own, however, and Yumeko slowly learns that he’s more than she at first expected.

A 19th-Century painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi depicting a kitsune

The plot as a whole is simple, as it’s a group of people going on a quest together to prevent the end of the world. Yes, it’s been done a thousand times, but I personally adore quest and adventure fantasies (there’s a reason that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are my favorite books).

The whole story was engaging and I fell in love with Yumeko’s character. Her growth as a character was extraordinary, beginning as a mischievous girl with fox magic to a warrior in her own right. She’s initially just thrust into an important position that she was in no way prepared for, and despite the fear she felt, she did what she had to in order to protect the scroll. I’m very excited to see how Yumeko continues to grow in the second and third books in the trilogy.

I also enjoyed Kage’s character, in a different way. He’s mysterious, and also has an interesting character arc. I’m hesitant to say too much about his arc because of the spoilers involved in the story, but his tale is just as fascinating as Yumeko’s.

The most intriguing part of the entire book for me was the elements of Japanese folklore that Julie Kagawa wove throughout the story. The demons, hungry ghosts, and other creatures fascinated me, mainly because I haven’t read many Japanese-inspired fantasy novels. I loved it so much that it certainly won’t be the last that I read.


The slow-burn friendship and romance of Yumeko and Kage were very well-done. In a lot of young adult fantasies, there’s a tendency for the author to write insta-love type romances, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Kagawa crafted their relationship so artfully that the reader really gets drawn into it.

Within the first fifty pages, one aspect of the novel that got on my nerves was that the chapters are told from multiple perspectives, but you’re not told who is narrating. You have to just figure it out. As the novel progressed, it became much easier to pick out who the narrator was right away, but for the first several chapters it was incredibly confusing.

Although Shadow of the Fox has some basic and common elements of young adult fantasy that might wear on people, overall I recommend the novel to people who want to explore a fantasy world not based on European aesthetics. I’m eagerly looking forward to finishing the trilogy this year.

Have you read Shadow of the Fox? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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FantasyAThon Round 2 TBR


There’s nothing like a fun readathon to finish the year with!

Many of you know that fantasy is my favorite genre, so as soon as I heard about the second round of FantasyAThon, I started working on my TBR!

FantasyAThon was started by Madi at The Book Pusher, and this year is being co-hosted by Ali from Ali Corvere Books and Julie from Pages and Pens. If you’re interested in their TBR videos, here they are:

The readathon will be starting on December 13 and finishing up on December 22. This means that participants will have two full weekends to get reading done, which I’m thankful for.

Here are the challenges:

  • Read a diverse fantasy
  • Read a debut or backlist title
  • Start a new series or read on in a series
  • Read a hype train fantasy
  • Finish a fantasy you started but didn’t finish
  • Read a fantasy in a format you don’t normally read
  • Read one of the hosts’ favorite fantasies
  • BONUS: read Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

My official TBR for the FantasyAThon contains four books, including Winterwood, but if I have time, I’ll try to read more. 

Here is my official FantasyAThon TBR: 

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Completes the following challenges:

  • Read a hype train fantasy
  • Read a hosts’ favorite (Ali Corvere’s)
  • Start a new series


Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Completes the following challenges:

  • Read a diverse fantasy
  • Finish a fantasy you started but didn’t finish
  • Read a backlist title

Every Heart a Doorway Seanan McGuire.jpg

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Completes the following challenge:

  • Read a fantasy in a format you don’t normally read

I very rarely listen to audiobooks, although I want to learn to love them. I’ll be listening to the audiobook version of this novel.

Winterwood Shea Ernshaw.jpg

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Completes the following challenge:

  • BONUS: read Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

For Winterwood, I would like to read it, but it all depends on whether or not I get it from my library or not. I’m currently on a book-buying ban for financial reasons, and it’s currently on-order at my library with two holds ahead of me. I doubt I’ll get to it, but hopefully, it’ll work out.

Are you planning on participating in FantasyAThon? If so, what books are you planning on reading?


Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

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If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

October OwlCrate Unboxing!

October was the first month in my subscription of OwlCrate, and it was a wonderful surprise! I loved every single item I received, and I can’t wait to read both of the books that were included.

In case you haven’t heard of OwlCrate, it is a monthly young adult book subscription box. Each box includes a book signed by the author along with several bookish items. They also offer the OwlCrate Jr box for children’s books.

I’ve been watching OwlCrate unboxing videos for ages, and wanted desperately to subscribe, but didn’t have the money to do so until recently. I was so happy with the box and the items, and it’s definitely a subscription I’m holding on to.

Keep scrolling for the October OwlCrate Unboxing!

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Here’s a quick run-down of the items included:

Choco Mint Truffle Tea from The Tea SpotI love teas with chocolate in them, so I’m looking forward to tasting this. The weather here on the coast is finally starting to cool down, so it’s a wonderful time to try a new tea.

Heart-Shaped Tea Strainer from Team OwlCrate and Michelle Gray. I’m really thrilled that they included a tea strainer in the box along with the tea because I didn’t have one. And the fact that it’s a heart is adorable.

Book Nerd Socks from Out of Print and UnderlinedThe socks are awesome. They have a book print on them and say book nerd on the bottoms. Only a savage doesn’t love fun socks!

Canvas Clutch Purse by Bookworm BoutiqueThis canvas clutch is really cute. I’ve used it once, but I’m the kind of person who likes huge purses that fit a couple of books, my large planner, and whatever other random stuff I feel like I need to tote around. For that reason, I doubt I’ll be using it frequently, but it looks great on my bookshelf!

Mirror of Erised art print by Michelle Gray. This is definitely getting framed and hung above my desk. It’s so pretty!

Pride by Ibi Zoboi. This book was actually the reason I decided to subscribe to OwlCrate when I did. Sometime in September through their Instagram page, they posted a spoiler that one of the two books included was going to be a Pride and Prejudice retelling, and this was the only book coming out around the same time that matched up. I knew I would end up buying it anyway, and decided I wanted the OwlCrate exclusive cover. I’m definitely glad I made that decision! Instead of the blue on the normal cover, the OwlCrate exclusive has pink accents, and the book itself is gorgeous. I especially love the art on the inside cover. (You can find the photos in the slideshow up top.)

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. This was another book that was already on my TBR list, and I was super excited when I saw it since I wasn’t expecting it. It’s a fantasy novel based on Japanese folklore, and I’ve heard such great things about it.

The November theme for OwlCrate is “Rise from the Ashes,” and I can’t wait to see what is in next month’s box. Have you read Pride or Shadow of the Fox yet? What were your thoughts?