Night of the Dragon: Shadow of the Fox, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Night of the Dragon: Shadow of the Fox, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Overstuffed finale has lots of blood, sacrifice, and heart.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

Two couples, one straight and one gay, spend romantic nights together with only kissing described.

Language

Mostly "bastard," "damn," and "hell."  One "b---h." The Japanese swear word "kuso" ("s--t" in English).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Men drink saki.

What 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.

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What's the story?

In NIGHT OF THE DRAGON: SHADOW OF THE FOX, BOOK 3, all the pieces of the summoning scroll are gone, taken by Genno to the islands of the Moon Clan Territory for the ceremony. Yumeko, Tatsumi, Reika, Taiyo Daisuke, and Okame must stop the summoning of the dragon-god in a week or Genno will destroy the world with his one granted wish. They travel to the coast to find a ship outside villages and in darkness because of Tatsumi. He shares not just his sword but his body as well with the demon Hakaimono -- his horns and glowing eyes would cause a panic. But they find that panic has arrived at the coast before them. A village is beset by an army of the dead controlled by powerful blood magic meant to stop them from ever reaching the Moon Clan territory.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the violence in Night of the Dragon. After so many demon heads roll, do you feel desensitized to the battle scenes? Is it ever too much?

  • There are demons in a lot of fantasy books (the Mortal Instruments series and the Summoner series for starters). How are the demons from Jigoku different from demons you read about in other stories?

  • Would you read more from the world of Shadow of the Fox? What character would you like to follow?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and Asian-inspired stories

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