Fox & the Peach is a YA fantasy novel by Nick Thaler.
In 1580 feudal Japan, teenage Momo is finding herself thrust into a battle she never sought out. She was found as a wounded fox and cared for as a potential pet by a young developmentally challenged boy - but imagine the family's surprise when she soon turned into a girl!
She's a kitsune, a girl who turns into a fox. Momo loves the boy who took her in, he is her "brother". But Momo isn't completely human, and she's not completely animal. She's wilder than humans but tamer than the foxes she tries to run with while in that form - it seems like no matter what, she's alone. And her "father" is demanding that she remain human if she stays with them any longer - but how can she do that? That would be suppressing her very nature.
In the meantime, without Momo being aware of it, the warlord Oda Nobunga is rising to power and enlisting the skill and help of various mythical creatures such as tengu, kappa, and oni (a type of ninja assassin with special powers). Soon, Momo becomes a target of these efforts and suddenly is thrown into a world where she meets people with different abilities - but she seems to be in constant danger. Even those who seem to protect her don't have her best efforts at heart - so she escapes with another girl, Kei, who can turn into a cat.
But can Momo, a girl whose loneliness and naivete shine like a beacon, survive all be herself in a world she doesn't fit in? In a world where she's hunted?
Fox & the Peach starts with a disturbing, creepy introduction to Nobunga's ninja assassins. The chapter title has the word "slaughter" in it for a reason! Nick Thaler definitely set the tone for danger and deadly intent for our villains right off!
Also, when we first meet Momo he also sets a tone. This one is of sadness - she already feels like an outsider, but also is getting rejected by her adopted family because of her ability. She's a sweet girl but has a rebellious streak - she refuses to stop turning into a fox.
We're a bit thrown into the story, but Thaler does his job at making it intriguing! For me, as the novel continued I did get a little confused. Perhaps Fox & the Peach was more convoluted than necessary? I'm not sure what it was, but I could never fully and completely invest in Momo and the haberdashery of other characters we're introduced to. Yet I was aware and appreciative of how very different and unique Fox & the Peach is!
Fox & the Peach is surprisingly dark, melancholy, packed with mystery, and takes focus to enjoy at it's full capacity. The threat against our main character certainly feels dire - and deadly. So, Nick Thaler is very successful at that! Plus, Fox & the Peach is stocked with Japanese ancient culture, legends, and a manga-like vibe, which will be enjoyed by many readers.
I personally didn't feel it met my bibliophile needs, but I can't put my finger as to why. All I can think is that the mange-like vibe was so strong, that despite the danger being potent it never felt real to me. And without the story feeling real, I could never care as much I would have liked. But, like I said, I believe this is a novel that many of you will enjoy - especially those of you who are fans of that genre!!!
In fact, I'd like to read it again when I have time to do so (Ha! That's a laugh, right?), because I do believe it could benefit from a reread.
Go ahead and pick up a copy of Fox & Peach and settle in! This could be the perfect match for you!