Review and Q&A: Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Young Adult
Published April 2, 2020

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

About Night of the Dragon

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.

Night of the Dragon on Goodreads

My Review

I’m so excited about this series. I love how immersive the story world is. This is the first series I’ve read that’s based on Japanese folklore. It’s super different than anything I’ve read before, and I really got into it.

Okay, I feel like all the things I want to say are spoilers, so apologies if I seem unclear.

This third book wrapped up some of the things we’d been waiting for from the first two books. It gives us more information about Yumeko’s past. There are some sweet romantic moments. There’s lots of buildup to the big fight that we know is coming.

When I first agreed to review NIGHT OF THE DRAGON, I was unfamiliar with the series, but a fan of Julie Kagawa’s books. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, so I started listening to the first two books in the series as audiobooks, and I’m REALLY glad I did! I don’t think I would have enjoyed the third book nearly as much or followed it nearly as well without reading the first two. So this isn’t really a series I’d recommend jumping into at the end.

This is a great series for fantasy lovers and of course anyone who loves manga and anime. It’s got amazing characters and a deeply immersive story world– which is probably something we all need right now!

Also, read on past my content breakdown for a Q&A with author Julie Kagawa!

Night of the Dragon on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
NIGHT OF THE DRAGON is part of a fantasy series that’s based on Japanese folklore. The characters speak Japanese. Two characters are gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Profanity used infrequently mainly by one character. Some swearing in Japanese.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. Kissing between a girl and boy. Hints at more than that– the couples talk about spending one last night together and do spend the night in a room together, but nothing beyond kissing is shown.

Spiritual Content
The story is filled with spiritual creatures. Some characters worship divine beings called Kami. Other magical creatures can shapeshift or possess other magic. One character is a ghost who seeks to help Yumeko’s party.

Demons respond to the evil blood magic and cause havoc in the human world. Tatsumi now hosts the powerful demon Hakaimono inside him.

Violent Content
Lots of battle violence and some graphic descriptions of injuries and death.

Drug Content
Some characters drink sake.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of NIGHT OF THE DRAGON in exchange for my honest review.

Q&A with Author Julie Kagawa

Author Julie Kagawa

Q: What were your biggest influences when creating this world in story, whether they be legends, folklore, anime, manga or other novels?

A:  Anime, Manga and video games have been my biggest influences when writing the world of Shadow of the Fox, but also the works of Akira Kurosawa like The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Rashomon.  

Q: Would you ever consider using this world and/or some of the characters in future stories that you write?

A:  I love Japanese legends and folklore, so I might very well return to this world someday.  Maybe not through the eyes of a kitsune, but there is always the possibility of future books set in the land of Iwagoto. 

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

A:  The hardest scene was the last battle with the Final Boss at the end.  Without giving away spoilers, there was a lot of kitsune magic, illusion and misdirection, and trying to show everything that was going on without making it too confusing was a challenge.  I don’t remember an easy scene to write, but I did enjoy writing one of the final chapters (where I hope everyone cries). 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)

A: There are a few references that only those very familiar with Japanese folklore would get.  For example, the names of the Reika’s two dogs, Chu and Ko, come from a Japanese novel called The Eight Dog Chronicles, which has been adapted into manga, anime, and even video games.  In Soul of the Sword, Yumeko and her friends are on their way to the home of the tengu, when they encounter a pair of magical stone guardians called Yoshitsune and Benkei, two real life historical figures that inspired countless legends and stories.  In folklore, Minamoto no Yoshitsune was a near mythical swordsman who had been trained by the king of the tengu, and Benki was a warrior monk who was his stalwart companion.

Q: What do you hope people remember about Night of the Dragon?

A: I hope people come away with a new appreciation of Japanese myth and folklore, particularly all the wonderfully bizarre yokai, yurei and bakemono that populate these stories.  From kitsune and tanuki to oni and kirin, I hope it inspires readers to learn more about the world of Japanese myth and legend.  And I hope people remember how much they cried at the end of the story.

Q: Is there a character that you found challenging to write? Why?

A:  Taiyo Daisuke was probably the most challenging, because it was a balancing act of making him a noble and making him likable.  Nobles in fantasy stories tend to be arrogant, snooty, mocking, and manipulatieve.  More often than not they are the villains, or at least an unpleasant obstacle the heroes must get around.  Daisuke was very clearly an aristocrat, so I made very certain to give him qualities atypical of a noble. Kindness, humility, and viewing everyone, even the ronin, as an equal was certainly not the mindset of a typical samurai, but it was necessary to make Daisuke a well loved member of the team and not a person the reader, and the other characters, hated.  

Q: How does a typical writing day look like for you?

A: I work from home, so times vary, but I try to head into my office and start writing around 9am everyday.  I have a quota of 1,000 words a day, except when I’m close to deadline, then the word count jumps by a few hundred words.  Sometimes I reach my quota in a few hours, sometimes it takes me all day, but I try not to stop writing until my word quota is reached.

Q: What part of the Shadow of the Fox series was the most fun to write?

A: I really enjoyed writing the parts with Yumeko’s kitsune illusion magic.  One of my favorite scenes was when Yumeko and the others attended a formal tea ceremony with a snooty noble of the Shadow Clan.  I won’t give away spoilers, but what Yumeko does at the tea ceremony still makes me smile, and remains one of my favorite parts of the series.

Q: Was there a scene or backstory about a favorite character that didn’t make it into the final version of NIGHT OF THE DRAGON that you can share with us?

A: There was an earlier draft where Taka, Lord Seigetsu’s servant, was a human boy instead of a small, one-eyed yokai who could see the future.  But it seemed more interesting to have him be a yokai instead.  Also in an earlier draft, Yumeko was not a half kitsune but a full fox who lived in a den with her grandmother fox and two brothers.  That also, got cut, as a half-human Yumeko was more sympathetic and relatable than one who was full kitsune.

Q: What is it about fantasy that draws you to it?

A: Is everything a good answer? I love myths and legends, other worlds, magic, swords, wizards, dragons, evil gods, epic quests, and the battle between good and evil.  I read to escape, but also to travel to far away places and encounter creatures and beings I would never meet in real life.  Who hasn’t daydreamed about flying on the back of a dragon?  I read fantasy for the same reason. 

Q: How much research goes into your books and at what point do you stop using research and build off it?

A: It depends on how much I already know about certain aspects of the book.  For example, from the amount of anime and manga I’d consumed over the years, I knew a lot about kitsune, oni, tanuki, and various other Japanese monsters.  I still did a fair amount of research, though it was more about the samurai and the Sengoku Jidai, the era I was basing the book off of.  I never really stop researching, though most of it goes into book one, which is where much of the world building takes place.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

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