(C/O Dreamspinner Press via Netgalley)
Title: Fox-Hat and Neko
Author: August Li
Synopsis: Tokyo high school student Tsukino Ayumu never wanted to stand out. He’s always been content to run at the middle of the pack and go unnoticed, and he doesn’t expect much to change when he moves to the small fishing village of Yuuyake to live with his grandfather.
In Yuuyake, Ayumu makes his first real friend in Ikehara Haruki and forges close ties with two girls, Shizuka and Chou. Together, the four friends muddle through the messy world of dating and relationships while trying to succeed in school and prepare for the world they’ll enter when it ends. Fate has other plans for them, though, and Ayumu in particular, as an invisible threat targets the village’s young people.
After being plagued by disturbing, violent dreams, Ayumu learns what the spirit world expects of him. He must learn to fight and to lead—but he’s only ever been ordinary. With the support of friends he would die to protect, Ayumu faces a destiny only he can fulfill. But others have taken an interest in Ayumu. The mysterious Fox-Hat and Neko know more about Ayumu than he knows about himself, and they lead him onto a path that might end in the destruction of them all.
Rating: 4 and a half stars
Review: I received this as an ARC from Netgalley courtesy of Dreamspinner Press, and I finished it in just one day, because I was so absorbed in the story from start to finish.
The cover depicts what is clearly a kitsune, and a cat-like creature, but it was the title which attracted my attention. Nekos -or nekomata as they are also called – are a part of Japanese mythology – which I love, so i decided to request it.
Reading it felt like I was reading a manga, which was an interesting sensation. I quickly became involved with the characters, and their lives. Ayumu is the main character, but it was mainly his girl friends Chou and Shizuka that I particularly liked – a bisexual/pansexual character and a gay character respectively. Chou is adorable, and I related to Shizuka’s quiet determination quite a bit.
As for the romance aspect of the book, I loved that it happened slowly for each of the main characters throughout the course of the book without overpowering the action of the novel. I mean, I’m just as much a fan of insta-love as the next girl, but watching the relationships develop slowly but surely throughout the book made me so, so happy. Also I really love any queer romance, so this book was just up my alley.
The only thing I found fault with, was that sometimes through the book, I felt a little bogged down with the heavy details and the way the plot occasionally felt a little slow and dragged out.
Aside from that though, the drawings interspersed throughout the novel were interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Li’s writing
In verdict, this was an absolutely amazeballs read, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone for when it is released on July 16.