(First off, some housekeeping. I've been MIA for a few weeks due to problems with my desktop, compounded by the fact that I can't bring myself to write an entire blog on my Nook. I apologize for any inconvenience. But I'm back now, and it's with a vengeance!)
David Tatum's The Kitsune Stratagem is worth your time. It is the first in the Inari's Children Series. The story is one of surprises, war and service. I went into this knowing a little bit about kitsune, the Japanese trickster spirits. I came out knowing more. While this is not intended as an educational work you can learn a lot if you keep your eyes open while scanning the pages. You can also be hugely entertained.
The story starts in the town of follows our heroine, Kieras, a young mixed-breed kitsune through her first year on her own after being forced to leave home, fleeing a marriage to a prince. As she runs she makes new friends, has adventures and finds members of her own family that she has never known. Kieras works hard, plays hard and fights like a champ. I'll admit this too: I'm a sucker for a big with a strong female protagonist. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I don't care about the SJW crap either, but Soz Skolia, Honor Harrington, Katherine Janeway, Katniss Everdeen, etc. are all MASSIVELY entertaining. Badass women are well... bad ass.) Tatum delivers in the form of a shape-changing, trained fighter with an attitude. One who, it should also be noted, is more gifted in shape-shifting magic than any of her siblings or most kitsune period.
Some of the surprises are based on setting. The kitsune is a mythical spirit from Japanese folklore. The story takes place in a setting closer to medieval Europe than anything in Japanese history. There are legendary creatures from other mythologies as well. It all blends well. The characters are believable and all true to their mythical (or in most cases human) natures.
Is the book perfect? No. I'm thinking of one particular character who acts like a fool, is treated like a fool and is shown to be a man who is intelligent-ish. I still think he's a fool even if he is clearly intended to be shown in a smart light. I just can't buy into him. Her father, Lahti, also seems to have sworn an oath that he should have been far too intelligent to make willingly. Kieras herself seems to be a bit less of trickster than she should be. All in all though, there is nothing so blatant that it detracts from the story or that is not required by the plot. I'd still recommend this to anyone with an interest in reading SF/F and a pulse.
Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 fake coins.
The Kitsune Stratagem
David A Tatum
Fennec Fox Press, 2014