I was kindly sent a free copy of this book by the author Mike MacDee. ‘Mata the Fox’ is an exciting and interesting set of three stories set in historical Japan. Here is my review.
Mata the Fox, a ninja working for the Shogun, must infiltrate prisons, uncover spies and discover the truth. Just like the foxes in myths, he can disguise himself but is that enough to succeed in his most dangerous of assignments?
I can’t believe how much I’ve enjoyed this book! ‘Shadow of the Fox’ is quite a short book and made up of three separate stories, all featuring Mata the Fox. The stories are all individual but should be read in order as certain characters re-appear the further you read on. The three stories all throw you into the action straight away.
Each story has it’s own chapters, complete with titles, and feels like an episode of a television series. The first chapter launches each of the stories right into the action. There isn’t a need for a long build up into who the characters are or what is happening. Instead the stories all start with a dramatic first chapter which just pulled me into reading more.
The whole book is told in the third person and the action moves around to different people giving it a real feel like I’m watching a mini movie. The switch in viewpoint doesn’t get confusing although you sometimes wonder who the next character you are following is, but this is done deliberately, like in a mystery, and there is never real confusion as to what is happening in the story. Each tale is both thrilling and a mystery and I love the fact I was surprised by the ending of each of these three stories. The first tale ‘Escape from Graveyard Bay’ is definitely my favourite, particularly because of the little twist at the end which I just wasn’t expecting.
Being set in Japan, back in the Edo period, there’s a lot of reference to Japanese things and words are used which some may not understand. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book which does a good job of explaining a lot about the differing objects and things which you’ll read in the book, as well as shed light on the fact that ninja clans and the well known ideas about ninjas didn’t exist which was interesting to read. The fact there is a glossary though, doesn’t make the story difficult to read though and the way tale is told, you end up understand what things are without needing to turn to the back of the book.
There isn’t any sex in the book and only about one use of the s swear word with more frequent b words. There is some violence described in a bit of detail but not too gory so much as sudden and shocking and so I would recommend this to older teens and above.
Despite being just three stories of short length they are so well written and I really enjoyed them and want to read them again after just finishing! Not only are they fast paced and thrilling due to the danger Mata and his accomplices are in, but there’s also a thrill in the mystery which really does keep you guessing as to what or how something happens. I’d love to read more of Mata the Fox in the future and I’d love for this to be turned into a longer novel but even though it’s only three stories I’d still recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction set in Japan or any story with a bit of mystery and undercover action.
Author’s website: https://mikestoybox.net/
Mata the Fox is a ninja agent whose mastery of disguise allows him to change shape like the foxes of myth. He has infiltrated places thought impregnable, stolen things thought irretrievable, and killed those thought untouchable; thus Mata always gets the Shogun’s most dangerous assignments.
Escape From Graveyard Bay Trapped on the dreaded island prison of Graveyard Bay, Mata must assassinate a loyal friend before she breaks under interrogation…or improvise an impossible rescue.
The Oshiro Songbird The deadly leader of an impenetrable spy ring is rooted in the community of Inari Pass: she’s invaluable to the town, lethal to those who threaten her, and irresistible to everyone else. Breaking up her spy ring seems impossible…so it’s a perfect assignment for the Fox.
The Gold Barons of Izu Second Place winner in the 2013 Samurai Fiction Contest. A revolt is on the horizon as Grand Minister Okubo and Yakuza Boss Kurai continue to oppress the Izu miners. To prevent the revolt, Mata must find a way to turn the barons’ dream alliance into a nightmare.