Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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I’ve always particularly liked kitsune —

So this post at tor.com caught my eye: M.L. Brennan Talks Kitsune Science and Folklore

This post isn’t *really* about kitsune folklore — if you are interested, this post is better for that — but it’s still fun to read.

Author and AMA champ Django Wexler asked for three reasons why kitsune are better than werewolves, so of course Brennan complied:

Kitsune are travel-sized, and can easily be carried onto a plane in a cat carrier. Werewolves have to travel in the baggage hold.

Foxes have a reflective lens behind their eye, just like cats, which gives them superior nightvision than wolves. They are extremely smug about this.

Foxes are fluffier and therefore cuter than wolves. That’s just basic science.

Well, yeah, fluffier!

Anyway, I’m significantly more likely to look up Brennan’s UF series now that I know there’s a kitsune in it. Where else do we see kitsune?

There was that spooky kitsune in Guy Gavriel Kay’s RIVER OF STARS, remember that?

There’s THE FOX WOMAN by Kij Johnson, which I haven’t read, but would like to. Pub Weekly said of it, “A meditation on poetry, ritual and humanity, Johnson’s fairy tale is a literate, magical and occasionally grotesque love story. Yoshifuji and Shikujo often communicate with each other through poetry; beautiful haikus and wakas provide intense glimpses into their characters.” Doesn’t that sound beautiful?

I remember a kitsune appeared in one of Gaiman’s “Sandman” graphic novels. Not an important character, but I noticed.

If I were going to write a book and include a kitsune . . . not impossible; it’s crossed my mind . . . then I’d be tempted to add in a lot of folklore bits. Like white kitsune who serve the Shinto deity Inari, or kitsune working together to draw lines of fire — I’d make up my own reason why — but I’m not sure about the nine tails thing. That looks really strange when I try to visualize it. Maybe nine tails in a metaphorical way?

hunting_rabbit_in_the_sun_by_kitsune_seven

You know, it’s not impossible that there’re something like kitsune in Japan in the Black Dog world. I’ve never mentioned it, but after all, there’s lots of stuff in the background of that world.

Have any of you tried ML Brennan’s “Generation V” series? In general, without a strong recommendation from somebody I know, I’m not likely these days to try a new-to-me vampire series.

And, anybody have a specific kitsune-containing novel to recommend?

Update: I just noticed an interview with ML Brennan at Fantasy Book Cafe, so check it out if you are now feeling intrigued about the Generation V series. Which, incidentally, Kristen at Fantasy Book Cafe really likes, so that’s a thumb’s up from a book blogger I follow.

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11 Comments I’ve always particularly liked kitsune —

  1. David H.

    I’ve been a big fan of kitsune, too, so count me as another more likely to pick up Generation V now (it’s hard to convince me to pick up vampire novels these days, too), but that article and Justin Landon’s post on Generation V is enough to actually put it on my list.

    I think one of my first exposures to Kitsune was actually through one of Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge novels (I think that’s her elf/”NASCAR” series?). I don’t remember any specifics, though.

  2. Elaine T

    I know of kitsune mostly through The Teen chattering about manga, I’ll point her to Brennan’s book in case it interests her. I’d been avoiding it even though I’ve like Brennan’s other stuff, urban fantasy with vampires AGAIN?

    Altho someone pointed me to one a couple days ago that actually is different, the author says: “Okay, everybody who said “You should write a book!” *G* I did!A Net of Dawn and Bones” is up on Amazon. Urban fantasy for anyone who’s stared at the latest vampiric/werewolf/whatever supposed “love” interest, and prayed the main character would have the common sense to set them on fire.”

  3. Rachel

    That’s right, David, I remember the kitsune in Mercedes Lackey’s book now that you’ve reminded me. I liked her . . . but not what happened to her, if she’s the kitsune I’m thinking of.

    If any of you read Generation V before I do . . . very, very likely given how fast my TBR pile expands and how few books I read these days . . . let me know what you think.

  4. Hanneke

    I really don’t have anything new to add; I had the same reaction as you and David did on both counts.
    The first book with kitsune which I remember reading was Mercedes Lackey’s Chrome Circle, not just for the young three-tailed kitsune girl, but also for her nine-tailed high lady mother and her establishment; though I agree that I didn’t like the really dark way that plot worked out. The whole Serrated Edge quadrilogy was very dark, all about child abuse, and not something I’d like to reread, even though there were bits in there that I liked (such as the kitsune).

    I also wasn’t intending to start any vampire- or werewolf series (Elaine’s quote is very apt; show some sense, please!), but that review and interview with M.L. Brennan, mentioning the kitsune and some realistic consequences made me doubt, maybe this series might be enjoyable after all. I’ll keep watching your blog to see if you or your commenters turn out to like it.

    Is this M.L. Brennan the same person as the Marie Brennan who writes the memoirs of Lady Trent about the natural history of dragons? That would make me a bit more inclined to trust her for the Generation V book as well.

  5. Elaine T

    I tried really hard to read Johnson’s FOX WOMAN but don’t think I ever finished it. Maybe I should try again, after all it’s been at least ten years.

    Yes, ML Brennan is Marie Brennan, author of Onyx Court & Lady Trent. I’d not really registered that she was doing this other thing until Rachel’s post today. Because I’ve liked her other stuff I have downloaded a sample of the first Generation X book. will report back.

    I tried the sample of the NET OF DAWN & BONES, and bought the book.

    Also asked the Teen for 9-tailed kitsune images. She’s sent me a bunch which I won’t spam here, but I’ll send them to our hostess for adding to the post, if she wants.

  6. Kristen

    I was going to tell you how much I LOVE this series, but you already saw that! ;) Vampires are not my favorite, either, but this is one of my current favorite ongoing series.

    Hanneke – M. L. Brennan and Marie Brennan are not the same person. M. L. Brennan gets asked that a lot and answers it on her FAQ page:
    http://mlbrennan.com/faq/

  7. Elaine T

    I sit corrected – thanks Kristen.

    The other Brennan has written some modern set stories which I haven’t read and I assumed these were them. They aren’t.

    (so far the sample of the series in question hasn’t grabbed me.)

  8. mona

    I rather like the prevalent image of the nine-tailed fox with the tails depicted in a peacock fashion, fanned out behind the body of the kitsune. Or moving like streamers in a gentle breeze.

    The image you posted above is kind of odd, more like a tail that’s been snared in several traps, snagged on branches, and suffering from split ends…

  9. Rachel

    I’m not surprised the hear that ML Brennan and Marie Brennan are different people. The former has so much more chatty a style on her blog posts and in that interview; the latter’s essays at swantower are written in a much more formal style.

  10. SarahZ

    Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series has a kitsune variant (also, oni, tengu, and kappa). Only one tail, though – I think she agreed that’d get in the way in practice.

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