Shadow of the Fox / Soul of the Sword / Night of the Dragon
I have always had a fascination with Japanese culture and if you are into the beautiful old customs of this island and also have a love for folklore, then these books are as perfect for you as they were for me.
The story centers around a yokai which is a Japanese monster, spirit or demon. In this case it is half-kitsune, which is a fox most commonly known for being a trickster. The young kitsune girl grows up as an orphan in the sheltered environment of a monastery where they teach her that she should keep a tight lead on her fox side (even hide them) and focus on her human aspects as much as possible. Kitsunes are able to create powerful illusions.
Known for the many tricks she plays on unsuspecting monks and people around her, she comes home late one evening to find the monastery destroyed by a multitude of demons, including a massive Oni. Still she manages to slip into the monastery to find the monks who taught and raised her. Most of them are already dead, but Master Isao is temporarily protected by the monks who are still living. He tells her the monks have really been guardians of a piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers all this time and now he wishes to give the scroll to her so she can bring it to the other guardians.
Once every thousand years, the Kami (which is a greater God) dragon will grant a wish to the human who has the scroll. Some time in the past the scroll was divided into three pieces after a wish caused the land to be plunged into chaos and ruin. Since it has been a thousand years since the last wish many different parties are simultaneously in pursuit of the pieces of the scroll.
Yumeko, the kitsune, is in complete shock by all that has happened but she finds a way to escape the monastery and the demons with the small lacquered box containing the scroll.
In the woods nearby she runs into a young Samurai by the name of Kage Tatsumi. He is headed towards the monastery but the young girl convinces him to travel with her instead, telling him the monks sent their piece of the scrolls to another temple. Eager to obtain the scroll for his clan, the Shadow clan, he offers her his protection in exchange for leading him to the hidden temple.
Together they embark on a journey that leads them to encounter many different obstacles and other yokai from old Japanese folklore. They also accumulate a great group of, sometimes unexpected, allies.
The POV changes from Yumeko to Tatsumi but it is indicated at the beginning of the chapter so it is not confusing.
I personally loved these books and I couldn’t wait to get back to reading them! The first two were better than the last book but it did all come together in the end. I definitely recommend reading this trilogy. There are a lot of Japanese words used but there is a dictionary of those words at the back.
The only thing missing would have perhaps been some illustrations of the different monsters and demons. Although there are good descriptions of them in the book, I found myself Googling some of them just to see what they looked like…
Hope everyone is staying safe with loads of books!!