Review: Night of the Dragon

Title: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genres: Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Pages: 384
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Review Copy: ARC provided by publisher
Availability: Available now

Summary: 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.

Review: [Note: This book contains graphic depictions of violence and character death.]

I am delighted to report that NIGHT OF THE DRAGON is a fantastic ending to The Shadow of the Fox trilogy. While some series falter at the finish line, author Julie Kagawa kept building on the things that made the previous installments in the series (Shadow of the Fox and Soul of the Sword) so much fun: a ragtag band of heroes putting everything they have on the line to save a magical world. And of course, their love for one another, whether it be platonic or romantic.

This was a hard-hitting book on a number of spoiler-y levels—I cried ten separate times while reading it, if you want some kind of scale—but the best spoiler-less comment I can make is that I will always love stories about characters who become heroes because they are committed to protecting others, even when the personal cost is high. Whether that’s holding the line against incredible odds or the insistence that the right thing must be done even if success is unlikely, Yumeko and the rest of her friends constantly make heroic choices even when the safer thing to do would be to run away.

I really loved Yumeko’s journey in this book, as she became stronger and more confident in her powers. I especially enjoyed her confidence when it came to Tatsuki/Hakaimono, and the reciprocation/development of their romance. But most of all, I loved how much everyone else in the group loved and believed in her—she truly was the heart and soul of the team, and a leader that could inspire others to face down gods and demons and evil ghosts with her.

The final book villain had solid twists and turns, but even though I was able to predict some of them, they were still satisfying developments. Once again, Kagawa did an excellent job of escalating the stakes, the fights, and the character arcs to the point where I plowed through the entire second half of the book in one go. I’m very sad that this series is over, but I am incredibly happy that I got to read it.

Recommendation: Buy it now. The Shadow of the Fox series is a fantastic addition to any fantasy collection, and the series wraps up wonderfully with NIGHT OF THE DRAGON. If you love action/adventure stories centered on heroes going on a quest to save the world, this series is the one for you.