Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Confession time! The moment I left Iwagoto and Yumeko, I was desperate to go back. So much so, that I begged my husband to make a trip to Barnes & Noble for me while I got ready to meet family in German Village for dinner at Schmidt’s. And because he’s been with me long enough to know how to make me happy, my sweet man picked up a copy of Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) Yeah, he’s a keeper! The picture tagged with this post is actually the one I took in his truck because there was no way I was going to leave this baby at home.

Anyway, let’s recap and get some warnings out of the way. First, if you haven’t read my review for Shadow of the Fox, you can find it here. Second, this review will have a “spoiler”. I use quotes because I don’t know that I would really consider it a spoiler since it’s given in the dust cover description. However, it’s really hard to give a decent review without talking about this point so we’ll have to make due. Bottom line, if you don’t want to be sort of spoiled, stop reading now!

From Goodreads:

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.

So there you go. That’s the spoiler. Hakaimono has taken over Tatsumi’s body. Let’s all have a moment of silence for my sweet warrior friend. 😥

In Shadow of the Fox, readers were introduced to the world of Iwagoto and the main characters. Yumeko, our leading lady, was tasked by her adoptive family to take the Silent Winds temple’s portion of the Dragon Scroll to the Steel Feather temple. Fictional friends were made, monsters battled with sheer will and sometimes magic, and readers addicted while desperately scouring Google for Japanese translations and images of yokai. In Soul of the Sword, I feel like it was Hakaimono’s story. At least for the first half. We learned how he came to be trapped in Kamigoroshi, his connection to the Shadow Clan, as well as his connection to the Dragon’s Wish. We also got more insight into Kage Tatsumi’s upbringing and the purpose of the Demonslayer through the centuries.

Honestly, I missed Tatsumi in this one. Hakaimono is a Grade-A bad guy (or demon). His reasoning for being pissed makes sense but still. Zero compassion or mercy from that guy. However, I absolutely loved seeing Yumeko grow as a character. She’s not quite as naive in this one. Even Hakaimono remarks that her eyes now hold a sense of sadness that wasn’t there before. But she’s got a steely resolve to save her friend and do her duty no matter what. By the end, her skill with kitsune-bi has reached levels that fool even the worst Jigoku has to offer. Of course, that’s with help from a mysterious newcomer – Lord Seigetsu.

In Soul, we don’t get a lot to go on about him. We know he’s a supernatural being of some kind, possibly a kitsune himself since that’s how he appears to Yumeko in her dreams. Joined by a yokai that sees the future and the ghost of a murdered servant girl, he follows our characters’ progress. Subtly pulling strings from afar, we don’t know what his motivation is or how long he’s been manipulating things. It’s alluded to being centuries. I have a feeling that he’ll be a big player in the third and final installment – Night of the Dragon – set to come out in April 2020.

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a bit about the development between two of our supporting characters, Okame (the Ronin) and Daisuke (the Noble) too. OMG! I did not see that coming when Shadow ended but I completely ship it. Some of the pointed barbs they sent each other had me smiling and chuckling out loud. Now, not only am I anxious to see what happens between Tatsumi and Yumeko, I also want to see a happy ending for them. Thanks, Kagawa!

Since this addition was more about backstory, there wasn’t quite as much action. Don’t get me wrong, stuff still happened. There was an assassination attempt, a failed demon binding, and an incredible battle to protect the scrolls. It just didn’t have the epic odyssey feel like the first book. I sort of missed that episodic storyline and hope it comes back in the third. It was so different and unique to all the other YA Fantasy I’ve read. However, we’re still left with the requisite cliffhanger that a middle book implies. For me, I agreed with Yumeko’s choice at the end and the blow was softened by the bargain between Hakaimono and Tatsumi. I was ready to have a fit and cry my eyes out had it gone the other way. But that’s a real spoiler so that’s all the dancing around you’re going to get from me.

To close, I’d like to mention that Soul of the Sword has alternating chapters like Shadow of the Fox. Unlike Shadow of the Fox, they’re labeled this time. Again, thanks, Ms. Kagawa! I wasn’t quite so confused this go around. So 5 stars from me. ❤ Now to suffer and wait 5 months for the next one.

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