A perfect ending to a wonderful trilogy. Kagawa consistently proves herself to be a fantastic writer with a dramatic flair all her own. Nothing compares to the Shadow of the Fox trilogy, and I doubt anything ever will.
Rating: 5 Stars
This review is based on an eARC sent to me by the publisher, Inkyard Press. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and not influenced in any way.
Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Synopsis: 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.
I’ve been reading Julie Kagawa’s books since 2013. From the Blood of Eden trilogy to the Iron Fey series, she has never let me down as a reader. And the final book in the Shadow of the Fox trilogy is no different. Full of epic battles, heart aching romance, and gut-punchy emotions, Night of the Dragon is one of the best books I’ve read in 2020.
The emotional payoffs in this book are phenomenal in ways that will make you triumph and/or cry your eyes out. When I had tweeted about receiving a copy of this eARC, Kagawa responded that there would be tears and she was not wrong. But she nails every emotional beat and nothing ever felt contrived or used for shock value. Even when she is ripping your heart out, Kagawa is delicate in her execution.
What really stands out to me through not only Night of the Dragon, but this series in general, is the characters. From timid Suki to noble Daisuke, each character is built to perfection. The growth of each character is another part of the journey that truly shines in this book. Yumeko starts as a mischievous and naive young girl who has never seen the world, yet through the course of the series she becomes confident and responsible in her kitsune powers, learns she is a strong fighter, and finds faith in herself. But she does all this without changing who she is in her core; she grows by finding these things were in her all along. Tatsumi’s emotional journey is particularly poignant, but full of spoilers so I can’t speak much of it, but watching this character, who was taught his whole life that love and connections is a weakness, find people who care deeply for him basically wrecked me. Whenever there is a “rag tag group” in a novel, I typically only truly care for 1 or 2 of the characters, but I was deeply invested in each member of the core group in Night of the Dragon.
To top it all off, the world building in this novel is nothing short of fantastic. The atmosphere that Kagawa brings to this series is eerily whimsical and filled with surprises. I loved all the Japanese mythology and folklore and am hoping to find more books showcasing other culture’s mythology. The writing style makes it easy to slip into this fantastic world Kagawa has built and even harder to leave.
Endings are hard. But Night of the Dragon is probably one of the best series endings I’ve read in a long time. Kagawa brings us tragedy and hope, love and loss, but most of all, she gives us a fantastical journey to join when we need a break from the world. And I don’t know about you, but that is exactly what I want in a book.