Every now and then, a book will make you feel something you hadn’t expected, a feeling that takes you by surprise but one that you welcome openly and happily. When I finished Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa, I felt an overwhelming feeling of what I can only describe as somber joy. I finished a book series I know will stay with me forever, one that made me happy to have experienced the story but sad to know that it is over.
Yumeko and her friends continue to be some of the most endearing and loveable characters I’ve ever read. Their frustrations and the gambit of emotions are beautiful as they share their hopes, fears, failures, and emotions. I could feel my heart racing during the moments of tension, and the moments of soft peaceful interactions made me smile. I genuinely cared about each of them, and it was easy to be invested in what they were fighting for, not just the overarching goal but each goal they individually had.
The supporting characters were terrific and fleshed out in their own character arcs. Okame and Daisuke were an incredible duo in how they contrasted but also complemented each other. Tatsumi was a boy who struggled with what he had become but became something so much more. Reika was stern and wise but sweet and understanding in how she comforted and advised Yumeko. And even Suki played a role I never expected but was delighted to read. Reading their adventure was a tense endeavour as I came to really care about them and hope that they would succeed.
Yumeko was definitely the star of the show. The amount of character growth that she went through the story was phenomenal. The way she carried herself, her variety of emotions and the strength and courage she held onto was beautiful. Comparing her from the start of the series to where she finished here, it was beautiful to see her growth and impossible not to love her and her dynamic with the other characters, even the antagonists. She exemplifies what I love most in characters, the willingness to do what is needed but to show kindness and compassion, something I feel writers don’t do enough of.
The story was fast-paced and exciting from start to finish. The overwhelming sense of dread was palpable as I feared for the safety of the cast of characters. From one tense action scene to another, I genuinely didn’t know what to expect. That may be what most struck me, how the story became so unpredictable but in the best possible way. The twists and turns were amazing and genuinely did not see them coming. But, when I reflected on the previous two books’ events, it all started to fit together perfectly. This character-driven story may be one of the best I’ve read in a very long time and one that I would love to revisit.
I absolutely love mythology and Kagawa’s world of Japanese mythology hooked me in. Night of the Dragon continues to use myths to build upon its story and make the stakes more exciting. The world-building this time around was far lighter and not as deep as the previous two books felt. I think this is acceptable since this is the conclusion of the series. It would be difficult to toss in curveballs without derailing the plot. The story builds off of what was already established in the past two books. It creates moments of believable tension, knowing that the horrible and terrifying events all had precedence. What is introduced, though, is quick and simple but elegant and served to progress the plot without causing any issues with flow.
Kagawa’s writing style is phenomenal. I loved the amount of detail that was delivered in each of the set-piece moments. The way she wrote out each chapter captivates the reader’s attention, whether it was an intense action-filled scene or a soft, peaceful, and loving moment. It was so difficult to put down the book as I was pulled in more and more by the ease of the vocabulary used and the flow from one chapter to the next. Often, I find long chapters to be a struggle to get through, but Kagawa’s writing lends itself to long bouts of reading and never feels tiring.
Gosh I love this book and the series.