Big thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for sharing the eArc of Soul of the Sword with me! I absolutely loved reading the previous book Shadow of the Fox, so I was really looking forward to this title. Unfortunately a lot of the aspected I loved from book 1 are lacking in book 2. Let’s get into the nitty gritty! Spoilers ahead for Shadow of the Fox!
Click here for the Synopsis!
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.
If you take a look through the synopsis, you can get a really good sense of the entirety of book 2. This is the start of my critique of the book in fact. In the opening section, the trajectory of the story is made clear. In order to protect the world from falling into a demonic hell-scape, Yumeko and her entourage must secure the dragon scrolls and attempt to exorcise the demon, Hakaimono. This general idea is repeated several times. I found myself skimming and not really missing much because of the frequent repetition.
The story doesn’t really progress from there until Yumeko and Tatsumi cross paths (as mentioned in the last few lines of the synopsis). Maybe it’s a product of me reading a lot of books with more rapid pacing recently, but Soul of the Sword read very slow to me. Shadow of the Fox seemed much faster paced.
Because Yumeko and Tatsumi are separated for the majority of the book, one of my favorite aspects of book 1 is eliminated. I loved their banter and watching Tatsumi slowly start to realize how much he cared for Yumeko. Yumeko also doesn’t have as many opportunities to be her zany cute self! The situation is a bit more dire, to be sure, but I really missed her cutesy quirks. Those attributes mostly come through in the form of romantic naïveté, which seemed odd to me.
Soul of the Sword is largely a travel book, which is often a stumbling block for me as a reader. There were plot elements that significantly sped up the travel, which was great! However, I still felt like the majority of the book was spent traveling, or planning to travel. Again, this isn’t a major issue and some readers enjoy travel books, but in this case I was distracted by it.
I don’t want to keep pulling the book apart, because I do really love these characters, and the world is simply enchanting. Something about this installment simply didn’t click for me. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series, Night of the Dragon.
If you’ve read Soul of the Sword, let me know what you thought! I would love to chat with some people about it.