Review: Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit by Jesse Q. Sutano cover shows a boy reaching for a glowing birdcage. A fox with two tails sits on his shoulder.

Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit (Theo Tan #1)
Jesse Q. Sutanto
Feiwel & Friends
Published May 31, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit

After inheriting a grieving fox spirit, a Chinese American boy must learn to embrace his heritage to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in Jesse Q Sutanto’s magical, action-packed middle grade fantasy, Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit.

Theo Tan doesn’t want a spirit companion. He just wants to be a normal American kid, playing video games, going to conventions, and using cirth pendants to cast his spells like everyone else. But, when his older brother dies, Theo ends up inheriting Jamie’s fox spirit, Kai.

Kai isn’t happy about this either. Theo is nothing like Jamie, and the two of them have never gotten along. But, when they realize the mysterious journal Jamie left Theo is filled with clues and secret codes, it’s clear that something strange was going on with Jamie’s internship at Reapling Corp.

But the only way onto the campus is the highly competitive “Know Your Roots” summer camp program, a celebration of Chinese and Indian cultures designed to help connect students with their heritage. Theo and Kai will have to put aside their differences long enough to honor Jamie’s last wishes, or the mystery he died for will remain unsolved forever…

Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit on Goodreads

My Review

I read the second book in this series last summer, and I have been meaning to read this first one since. When I read the second book, I liked Kai’s quirky humor and the funny footnotes she leaves in her chapters, but somehow reading the first book, I felt like I got the humor more, if that makes sense. Maybe it was simply that I was introduced to her as a character in this book rather than jumping into the second book in which the reader is already sort of expected to know her.

I loved the scenes at the beginning between Theo and Jamie. Even though Jamie was confusing Theo and acting strange, it was easy to get a sense of the rapport between them, and that made a great setup for the rest of the book. There were moments when I wondered if Kai’s storyline was distracting from the central plot, but as the threads of her scenes and Theo’s came together, I felt like they fit together nicely.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book a lot. I’d been on a graphic novel binge, and this was the first prose novel I read after that. It was an excellent choice.

Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Theo and his family are Chinese American. His friend is Indian American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Theo meets spiritual beings, from a fox spirit companion to deities and demons from Chinese mythology. Characters are shown in different spiritual realms, such as Diyu (hell).

Violent Content
Situations of peril. References to a fatal car accident. Battles and deception.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THEO TAN AND THE FOX SPIRIT in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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