Title: Soul of the Sword
By: Julie Kagawa
Series: Shadow of the Fox #2
Published: June 18th, 2019
By: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA | Fantasy
Buy it: Book Depository
One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.
Now he has broken free.
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.
Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.
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“My master used to say, sometimes a whisper is all that is required to calm a storm, but when words fail, sometimes you need the thunder.”
I enjoyed this sequel, I don’t think it’s as solid as the first book, it’s kind of slow to read in my opinion, but even so, it has many aspects that I’ve managed to enjoy, and I’m very excited to know what will happen now! In this book, we can see a lot of travel from one place to another, so we know new places and characters, but it also has truly solid fight scenes, great development, and growth of characters and a whole new POV that brought special darkness to the plot.
In Soul of the Sword, we follow our characters immediately after the final events of the first book. Now our groups will have to continue their journey in order to take the piece of this ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple, but they’ll encounter many obstacles on their way, as well as a new and powerful enemy, Hakaimono, having been freed, now is stronger and ruthless than ever. Things get even worse when Hakaimono joins forces with The Master of Demons and this can unleash a battle that our characters might not win.
I think this sequel is a lot of entertainment and I think it’s very well built to make way for what will surely be an epic ending. Despite having enjoyed accompanying the characters, whom I love so much, on their journey and living new adventures, it was quite challenging to read at times. In fact, I thought I’d read it in a couple of days because I was very excited after finishing the first book, but it took me much longer than that, and I was with it for almost a week. It’s that type of book that hooks you easily, but then when you check how many pages you read, you see that you read just a couple, you know? That can be something frustrating. Leaving this aside, Julie Kagawa will always be one of my writing queens, because everything in her stories seems to be perfectly thought out, and nothing is left to chance, even the smallest details, and I really appreciate that. I’m not a big fan of long trips in books, they always seem quite dense, and it wasn’t the exception, but it did give me much more information and knowledge about the Japanese culture that I really appreciated.
One of my favorite things is that I have gotten to know many more Japanese creatures and demons that are the creepiest thing that I’ve read, in fact, I found myself looking for everyone on the internet to have a better image of them and they’re REALLY creepy. But I really enjoyed that side because it gives a darker tone to the plot and contrasts very well with Yumeko’s point of view, for example, with all her sweetness and innocence. The plot, in general, is solid, it’s a great idea for a story in general, but I understand that in this “bridge book”, although we know more characters and we managed to collect much more information about the characters, there’s a certain vibe of trying to dilate or lengthen a little everything, to take a little longer to reach the conclusion. Is it books with unnecessary filling? NO, not at all, it has and offers valuable information on many other Clans that we knew very little about, especially the Shadow Clan and its members.
Talking a bit about the characters as I always like to do, I think it’s always fun to follow them, due to their varied personalities, but also in this book, we have much more depth in that aspect, and I really appreciate it. Yumeko continues to be the sweetest person, I adore her as the main character because I think she has had to face many fears, and things unknown to her, but also has had to overcome hundreds of paradigms. She’s very brave, and I’m glad to see more of her Kitsune side, it’s very interesting. Her growth is also incredible and in the end, I see a much stronger and smarter person. Following “Kage Tatsumi” was quite different this time and I’ll talk more about that later, because I have a lot to say, in short, I really liked what’s happening with this character. Then we have my beloved Okame-san, whom I’ll protect with my life if I must do it lol, he’s still a favorite, he always makes me have fun with his intelligent and perspicacious dialogues and this time I saw another facet in which I loved, I didn’t sow that thing coming but it’s perfect. Daisuke is a good character, he’s brave and very wise, and I like that, I didn’t have strong feelings for this character before but now I start to like him much more and I want to know what will happen to him and that new romantic focus in which the author put him on. I’m afraid I can’t give much info on that but LOVED THE ROMANCE, and that’s all you need to know.
“All souls have a destiny. Some are simply brighter than others.”
I really wanted to dedicate a whole little paragraph to Hakaimono and his role in this book because I loved it! Love having a POV just from him, for obvious reasons, right? But even so, I was surprised by this point of view and I managed to appreciate every moment. Above all, I like it because it gives another face to this whole story, having the villain’s POV is always interesting, but having the POV of one of the first generals of hell itself, is something entirely different. Obviously, I don’t on his side, at all, he’s a despicable being who has born to generate dead and destruction, but I can still appreciate this new vibe that he gives to the story, and I also liked to follow him separately on his own journey in search of being fully released. Thanks to him we know a variety of very interesting evil characters, among them and the most important for the story from now on is The Master of Demons, Genno, who’s even worse than Hakaimono if that’s possible. He’s a human who with the help of blood magic has become one of the most powerful blood magicians in the world (I guess lol) and while everyone believes that he has already been destroyed, Hakaimono discovered that it’s not entirely true and goes in his quest to generate this new alliance that promises huge darkness falling on everyone. It’s a super interesting POV to follow, very rich in content, and even more incredible in details and descriptions, I really liked it. I’m still not sure about that ending, though.
To finish, but no less important, I want to mention This trio of characters, Suki, Seigetsu-sama & Taka, who although I don’t know exactly what role they play in all this yet, I really liked their chapters and I think they give it a lot of mystery and intrigue to the plot.
I don’t know how you personally feel about gore stories, but I want to warn you that there’s a lot of that happening in this book, even more than in the first one. So if bleeding and mutilations are triggering for you, I highly recommend discretion. Remember that this story sits a lot on demons and very ruthless characters so many situations of torture occur in the book, both psychological and physical.
I don’t know how I feel exactly about the ending, I don’t really love it, but I do think it’s appropriate to give us a solid/open ending and I can’t wait to grab the third and last book, I’m very lucky that it already came out because I couldn’t wait that long, guys! On the other hand, I think the author has a very unique way of creating painful and sentimental of grief and deep meaning scenes in general, I liked that, and I felt all the feelings. I know that I already mentioned I’ve learned a lot about Japanese mythology in general, but also about culture, and now I feel a little wiser, which is great. Above all, I found very interesting everything related to Tengoku (haven), Jigoku (hell), and Meido (which is a kind of Limbo).
“As I said before, vengeance is easy. One can never be certain with an emotion as dangerous and unpredictable as love.”
Do I recommend this series? So far, OF COURSE, I DO! I think it’s a story very rich in Japanese culture and mythology, and it reads easily as an anime, if that’s something you enjoy. And above all, a very interesting and dynamic plot to follow. There are things going on all the time and this is generally a sequel that brings new information and gives us incredible scenes of action and intensity but it also takes time to focus on love, friendship, and family. I love the magic aspects I think they’re wonderful. It’s an atmospheric story and very well thought out, so if you haven’t read it yet! Do it now!