The White Fox by James Bartholomeusz

In The White Fox, 16-year-old British teen, Jack Lawson, lives in an orphanage and has only two friends: Lucy, a spirited shopaholic, and Alex, missing from the start of the book. He also has a mysterious glowing white fox that follows him around town and may or may not be a hallucination. When a crop of suspicious, hooded figures start popping up in his hometown, accompanied by chain of freak disappearances and even murder, Jack becomes introduced to a magical resistance group called the Apollonians. They exist to fight the dangerous Cult of Dionysus, whose hooded members aim to spread Darkness throughout the worlds. (Plural. There are many worlds.) Jack, along with Lucy and the Apollonians, must travel to the planet of Rauthr in an effort to stop the Dark from destroying the Light.

The White Fox reads like a mix between Lord Of The Rings and a storyline for a video game role play, like Kingdom Hearts. There are elves, dwarves, goblins, and an epic storyline with a massive battle scene as the climax. The video game feel is exemplified by the linear storytelling which focuses on scene by scene action: first the hero battles boss #1, then boss #2, then the final boss.

The enemy is Darkness, and there are tons of worlds, all at different levels technologically (Earth is Earth, Rauthr is medieval, and Nexus, the home of the bad guys, is futuristic). The main hero comes of age during the journey. He grows up as he becomes pivotal in the fight between good and evil. We’re treated to excellent character development, humor, and loads of imagination. My favorite character is the white fox because he’s snarky and his name is Inari–Inari is the name of a Japanese Okami, or god, who uses white foxes as messengers. It seems the fox is supposed to have some elusive Japanese mythological relation, but that isn’t exploited in the plot.

My main criticisms revolve around plot pacing and execution. The action scenes are very confusing, and even slower scenes tend to jump around a bit without laying out the plot clearly for the reader. Sometimes the writing is over the top and a little crazy, which doesn’t sit well with this type of book–since it’s more middle grade than young adult and more commercial than literary, it really shouldn’t be confusing, ever.

The White Fox is University student James Bartholomeusz’s debut under Medallion Press’s new YA-YA division. YA-YA specializes in young adult books written by young adults, and I’m way jealous of Bartholomeusz for publishing as a teen! But, I think it’s great, too, and applaud him for The White Fox, a very fun, engaging book.

         

If Axie were a book, she would be a young adult one featuring a kick-butt heroine in a fantastical setting, or maybe a middle-grade one about a boy coming-of-age (even though she is a 21 year old female). She likes to eat, watch shows (reality t.v., Korean dramas, and anime), read, read, read, sleep, and then dream (in that order). You probably can’t find her lolling about online, since her online presence is sorely lacking, but she is very friendly and would speak to you if you spoke to her.

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