*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
What do you get when you take a naive half-kitsune whose never left her temple and a stoic assassin and send them on a journey together through a Japanese-inspired setting that’s filled with yokai, demons, and shenanigans?
A book that is a surprising amount of fun!
It took me a bit to warm up to this book, but once I did, as I said, it ended up being surprisingly fun, despite the seriousness and danger of some of the scenes and situations. It reminded me of the movie Tangled, which is one of my favorites. It had this kind of zany road trip feel with all the shenanigans the characters got into during their travels and the way they kept picking up stragglers and adding more people to their odd little group along the way. Granted they were traveling by foot and most of their shenanigans involved fighting for their lives against murderous supernatural beings, and things did get more serious and heavy at the end, but still. Yumeko’s playfulness, innocence, and wonderment at everything she experienced, Okame’s debauchery and sarcasm, and Tatsumi’s sighs of resignation and begrudging acceptance of his role as the responsible one made the whole thing lighthearted and a pleasure to read.
My favorite thing was the characters and the dynamics between them. Yumeko was adorable, and I loved her. She was playful because of her fox nature, and she had never left her temple before, so she was really enthusiastic about things she was experiencing out in the world. She also was brave and fought when she needed to, but she was kind and took the peaceful road whenever possible in confrontations.
Tatsumi grew on me as I got to understand him more. He was literally trained to suppress his emotions, and that can be a hard kind of character for me to like because I can’t connect to those who have no emotions, but I felt horrible for him, and I liked seeing his struggle when he did start to feel things.
As soon as Okame was introduced, I wanted him to be part of the story, so I’m glad that he was. Okame was like 90% awful, but the other 10% was sarcastic and entertaining and useful in a fight, and I couldn’t help but like him. And in a way, I kind of understand why he was the way he was, and I’m curious to know his story.
Daisuke had some odd pasttimes, but he was likeable. I’ll just leave it at that and let you get to know him for yourself.
Another thing I really liked was that I finally got to read about a kitsune! I know barely anything about kitsune, but I enjoyed this author’s portrayal nonetheless. There were a lot of other supernatural beings too (all based on Japanese mythology), which was really cool.
Last but not least, I can’t say for sure because I don’t know much about this, but it seemed like the story was really immersed in Japanese culture. The characters, the society, the settings, the language, the beliefs, the supernatural creatures.
Honestly, I don’t even have any complaints. I loved the characters and their dynamics, the Japanese setting, the supernatural beings, and the story. This was a great book, and I had a lot of fun reading it! I think the next book might have more intensity and heaviness than this one, but I’m happy to follow these characters wherever their journey leads them next.
Anyone who likes Japanese mythology and culture, lots of supernatural creatures, lovable and quirky characters, and stories that balance the serious stuff with a lot of fun.