A long time ago, a Kage made a wish to the Dragon scroll in order to avenge his kin and enslave Hakaimono, a great Oni General from Jigoku (Hell) into a cursed sword Kamigoroshi (God Slayer). Kage went mad and slaughtered many, influenced by the demon itself. Centuries later, Kamigoroshi re-emerged, this time controlled by the Kage (Shadow) clan under strict discipline to overcome the demon’s influence. Soul of the Sword follows the tale of Yumeko, a half-breed Kitsune (fox) demon who has vowed to save her companion, Kage Tatsumi from Hakaimomo’s demonic possession. Embarking in a dangerous quest with a shrine maiden (miko), a ronin (Dishonored Samurai), a Taiyo noble, two shrine guard dogs and an old priest, Yumeko plans to hunt down Tatsumi and drive Hakaimomo out before the Kage can eliminate him or the whole empire falls to ruin.
Takes place in old Japan, Iwagoto where feudal lords and demons alike roamed the lands. The story has subtle elements of romance but it is mostly focused on the myths and legends that surrounded old Japan at the time. There’s explicit gore as humans get split in half or demons go on a bloodlust rampage. A lot of Japanese terms are used but the book makes a great job of explaining the terms within written context. A glossary found on the back supplied all the terms used in the book although I didn’t need to refer to it at all.
The book is divided into chapters that pertain to different characters. We see the story from the point of view of Yumeko, the main character, Suki, the ghost and Hakaimono, a possessed human and sadistic Oni that is hell-bent on purging the Kage clan from existence. The author also summarized the events of the first book, which I had not read, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the new story head-on. Without having read the first book, I initially assumed this was a standalone tale and found myself surprised to find out it was a trilogy.
This was a very enjoyable read. Descriptive and vivid imagery. There were elements of mythology, humor, subtle splashes of heterosexual and homosexual romance. Dry, sarcastic humor was sprinkled along the chapters from both demons and humans alike had me snickering out loud from time to time. There was a sense of eeriness and tragedy as well. The pace of the book was fantastic. It wasn’t rushed and despite the chapter division by character, I did not find my attention wavering and remained hooked until the very end.
The ending of the book played out in a satisfying fashion and while I’m not a fond of cliffhangers, I’m excited to read book three of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy.
As always, a huge thank you to NetGalley for supplying me with the kindle version of this book. However, all opinions remain my own.
Title: Soul of the Sword
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publish Date: June 18,2019
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN (US & Canada)
Rating: Positive/ 5 stars