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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Will introduce many readers to the world of the samurai in feudal Japan, as well as folklore surrounding kitsune (foxes), kami (spirits), yurei (ghosts), oni (demons), and more. Six-page glossary includes more on these creatures, some basic Japanese words and phrases, clothing, and more.
Strength lies in more than muscle -- cunning, resilience, and compassion are more powerful even than gigantic demons and vengeful gods. Samurai values of loyalty, honor, and sacrifice.
Positive Role Models
Yumeko's friends have confidence in her to complete her difficult task and she steps up. She uses her cunning and compassion to guide her. Even if she could lose everyone dear to her, she does what needs to be done to save the world from annihilation. LGBTQ+ representation here -- two important characters are gay men.
Violence & Scariness
Blood and gore dominate every fight scene and there are many. Swarms of demons get killed and get their heads cut off (details on rivers of blood and heads rolling), mounds of rotting dead fuel dark magic, those same dead reanimate and need to be dismembered to stop them, a sea monster sinks a ship and kills many. A samurai kills herself with poison, others are killed in battle and skirmishes with less detail. Spoiler alert: Key characters die painful, drawn-out deaths in battle.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two couples, one straight and one gay, spend romantic nights together with only kissing described.
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Mostly "bastard," "damn," and "hell." One "b---h." The Japanese swear word "kuso" ("s--t" in English).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Men drink saki.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Night of the Dragon is the finale in the Shadow of the Fox trilogy by Julie Kagawa, the best-selling author of the Iron Fey series. It's set in a magical version of feudal Japan with creatures out of Japanese folklore, including one of the main characters, Yumeko, who is half-fox, half-human. Remember all the gory battles from the second book, Soul of the Sword? It's lots more of the same here, and spoiler alert -- key characters die painful, drawn-out deaths in battle. Expect less drinking here (just a scene of saki drinking), a little more swearing (but still mild for a book for mature teens), and two couples, one straight and one gay, spend romantic nights together with only kissing described. Yumeko is the ultimate underdog (underfox?) hero here, sacrificing everything to save the world and using her cunning, resilience, and compassion to defeat a formidable enemy.
Is It Any Good?
This trilogy finale is overstuffed with epic battles, demons, bloody beheadings, more demons, nearly unstoppable magical villains, and drawn-out painful and honorable deaths. And don't forget the gigantic dragon-god. It's a lot. Plus the one day to save everything starts midway through the book, not in the last third when you would expect the climactic action to ramp up. Still, it's a nail-biter and it's full of the kind of magical misdirection the half-fox main character is known for.
There's real heart in Night of the Dragon, too, with Yumeko and Tatsumi's romance, the noble and ronin's relationship, and Yumeko's discovery of her lost family. Get the tissues handy because there are some sad goodbyes mixed in with all the fighting. The story's connection to the spirit world makes them even more poignant. There's lots to love about this whole series and fans will enjoy this epic finish.
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