Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fox Woman” as Want to Read:
The Fox Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fox Woman

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,147 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Yoshifuji is a man fascinated by foxes, a man discontented and troubled by the meaning of life. A misstep at court forces him to retire to his long-deserted country estate, to rethink his plans and contemplate the next move that might return him to favor and guarantee his family's prosperity.

Kitsune is a young fox who is fascinated by the large creatures that have suddenly

Paperback, 380 pages
Published February 3rd 2001 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2000)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fox Woman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Fox Woman

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

so this is a story about a fox who falls in love with a married human man, and in order to get his attention, she uses secret ancient fox magic and she and her family become human, or illusions of humans, and trick the man into falling in love with her and believing that their illusory world is real, as he lives and eats and mates with them and time stands still for a little while.

the setting is ancient japan, and the story is full of details of the expected behavior of men and women in civiliz
I’d been unaware, when I picked this book up, that it was going to involve lots and lots of incest and squicky yiff moments and “Oh hey my fox wife is super attractive but you know what her fox brother is also pretty delicious I think the two of us must have sexy times in the hot spring and I won't feel bad about it because I am a wealthy man and I can sleep with anyone I want even my brother-in-laaaaaw!”

Nope. Because I’d had it recommended to me as a Realistic Look At Ancient Japan With Some Fa
Cathy Douglas
I picked up this book because I read one of Johnson's short stories, The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change [all those capitalization choices are hers – don't ask me!:], and enjoyed it. I wound up liking her longer work even better. This lyrical, layered mythological story won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved it. At first I found the pace so slow that it was easy to put the book down, but once things got rolling, there were enough delightful momen ...more
Gorgeous retelling of a Japanese fable about a fox who falls in love with a man and transforms herself into a woman to earn his love - a little slow-moving in parts, but that's part of its charm: it's a reflection on what it means to be human, and therefore the slower pace is entirely appropriate. And Johnson's language is spectacularly evocative!
Althea Ann
Kij Johnson's first novel is an expansion of her Sturgeon-award-winning short story. It is a quiet, rather slow-moving story of three weak, unhappy people. It's based on the Japanese folk legends of "kitsune," foxes, which are rumored to have the ability to turn into people, especially beautiful women.
Yoshifuji, finding himself out of a job for the season, decides to move back to his country home, taking his wife, Shikujo with him. Once there, a young fox, Kitsune, sees Yoshifuji and falls in lo
This book was not for me.

The author is very talented. She has a beautiful poetic quality to her words, fitting for a fairy tale. You can tell she has done a lot of research to capture this historical period accurately, as well as the life of a fox.

However, to me the plot loses strength as it goes along. I stopped reading about halfway through and skimmed the rest. The romance was not believable to me, and less enjoyable because the male love interest is married. I didn't buy the idea of a fox fa

There are two stories playing out here.

The first is the story of three people chasing each other: The Longing Heart, the Jealous Heart, and the Indecisive Heart. It’s a story as old as the Bible and as recent as today’s soap opera episode.

In this version, it is a man and two women, the man indecisive about what he wants, one woman longing for him, the other woman jealous that he is indecisive about who he wants. I have seen this played out many ways – a boy and two girls, and girl and two boys,
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I liked this book, although I liked Fudoki, Johnson’s later novel, better.

This one is a fairy tale retelling set in medieval Japan, about a fox who falls in love with a man and turns into a human (or an illusion of a human) in order to have him. It’s told in epistolary form, through the diaries of the three main characters: the fox, the man, and the man’s wife. Multiple narrators are the curse of the ambitious debut author, but while all three voices clearly come from the same writer, this didn’
Jay Z
This book is like wandering through a dream. It's so well-written I COULD DIE. The story is very simple. It's about a little fox and her family, and about how she falls in love with a man and does a whole lot of crazy magical shit to make him fall in love with her. (Obviously, no good can come of this, but our little fox wants what she wants and she's a fox and they don't really think about consequences.) The genius is all in the writing.

A lot of people seem Upset about this book because of two
"Man, this is slow," I thought. "I don't know how I'll get through this. It's very pretty, but I have no idea where this story is going."

It took me weeks to read the first half of the novel. Then I read the rest in a day.

The Fox Woman is set in ancient Japan. It's about Kaya no Yoshifuji and his wife, Shikujo, who move to his rural estate when he fails to get a court placement. Yoshifuji is deeply depressed and desperate to find some sort of meaning in his life, but this drives him and his wife
Karin Gastreich
This is an extraordinary book, poetically written and a very worthwhile read. Based on a traditional Japanese fairy tale, it is the story of fox who falls in love with a man, and the mysterious magic she invokes to be with him.

The book is occasionally bogged down by an excess of introspection. This is to be expected, I suppose, as the story is told entirely through the diaries of the main characters. Also, I wasn't entirely convinced by Kaya No Yoshifuji as a romantic hero; all too often he came
Kitsune are fox spirits of Japanese mythology. Able to hone their magical abilities and in time, take human form; they appear in folktales as trickers, helpers, lovers, friends, guardians...

From this tradition comes The Fox Woman, a historic fantasy of a fox who falls in love with a nobleman. Kij Johnson puts in plenty of detail, both of feudal era Japan and the lives of foxes-- details that provide a generous reality on which the unreality nexus of the two can be explored.

Frankly, given the plo
The Tiny Cat
What does it mean to live? Is it the ability to love?

What does it mean to love? Is it the desire to live?

Kij Johnson weaves a magical tale of kitsune, the fox who wants to become a woman. As a fox, life was simple. They hunt, eat, sleep, and mate. But the world of humans fascinate kitsune, and captures her with its complexity.

Yoshifugi becomes tired of life. He doesn't seem to be able to grasp the meaning of 'living' and in foxes he sees life as it should be; free, careless, and completely natu
This was a beauty of a book, a mix of myth, fairy tale, love story, and cautionary tale.

The kitsune, the fox-woman, is a well-known figure in Japanese folklore and myth; here, Johnson places the story of a fox who wishes to become a woman against that of a young couple whose marriage is faltering under the weight of artifice and constraint. Above, in the house, Yoshifuji and his wife Shikujo communicate by writing each other haikus open to multiple interpretations, neither knowing what the other
An excellent retelling of a classic Japanese myth of a man lured away from reality by a fox woman. (Much like Western fairy stories, where men are lured into the faerie realms, where time moves very differently.) The twist is this time, the story is told from three different perspectives, through the diaries of the man lured away, his wife, and the fox woman who fell in love with him. In addition to being an engrossing story, it explores the natures of illusion, reality, perception, and poetry. ...more
I have always been interested in fantasy with oriental flavor and in haiku poetry, so this book is right up my alley. Basically, this is an expansion of a classical japanese fairytale, a three character study about love, relationships, aspirations. Plot-wise nothing really happens, basically a nobleman, his wife and a magical fox note down in their diaries everyday impressions and spend a lot of time gazing at their navels. This is an extreme simplification of the book, for behind these apparent ...more
Mistiemae1 Downs
A beautiful rendition of one of the Japanese kitsune myths that delves into reality vs. perception, the various forms love can take, desire, and destiny. I was enthralled with it all the way up until the ending, which I felt was a little too anti-climatic (the reason I gave it 4 stars rather than 5). The portrayal of Heian-era Japan was thoughtful and wonderfully spun. I was amazed by this departure into another time and culture. My favorite part of the book, though, was the lovely poetry. I cou ...more
Nathan Burgoine
A Japanese semi-fable, it brings to mind Charles De Lint, and is the story of a wife, a husband, and a fox, and the magical boundaries broken and repaired in a story of love. The fox as myth is explored heavily here, and it's done wonderfully. I remember going on a real binge of Japanese mythology after reading this book.

In fact, to my incredibly western background, it was the Japanese flavoring of the book added the truly fresh magical feel to an already strong fantasy tale, and I really cannot
Sylvia McIvers
Two young foxes watch an semi-abandoned country house.
His Lordship fails at the capital and retires to said country house.
Her Ladyship dutifully follows her husband, even though a strange thing happened to her at this very country house.

The countryside. Where things are not entirely civilized.

The young fox falls in love with His Lordship, and undertakes difficult magic to become Kitsune, a magical fox-woman.

His Lordship is depressed and doesn't know when his happy youth faded into greyness. He
Katie M.
The writing is crisp and beautiful, 11th-century Japan is fascinatingly rendered, and the best parts are compelling and eerie and intriguing. But the plot is SO. SLOW. and the lessons SO. HEAVY. HANDED. that when you throw a bunch of mostly unappealing characters into the mix, you're left with a novel that really falls short of its potential. It took me the better part of a year to slog through... I don't regret finishing it, but I wouldn't regret never having started it, either.
Hannah Stoutenburg
This book was a beautiful fairy tale in the classic Japanese style. It deals with beautiful topics like the soul, types of love, animals, marriage, family, fate, and so many more things wrapped in a magical package that shifts with the story from fox to woman, sometimes losing the distinction between the two. Almost borders on a Cinderella-esque following as well which is a plus.

Downside to this book is sometimes it got rather slow.
May 16, 2015 Caitlin added it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson is nice fantasy read. What first drew me to the book is that it was of course, about a fox, and the fact that it was stand alone. What gave it a 3 star rating for me was the fact that some parts of the story seem drawn out and repetitive. Kij Johnson is very descriptive which makes for a beautiful and stunning novel, but it also makes it a longer read when it could have been very well done in a thinner tome. I'm one of those "Don't say in several words what can be sa ...more
It took me forever to read this book because it was so boring! Even the soft porn it is chock full of is boring!
Sep 11, 2014 Queenie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Japan enthusiasts,
Shelves: for-fun
An absolutely stunning read. I was unable to get through it the first time I picked up the book and I really don't know what compelled me to give it a second chance but I am VERY glad that I did! I zoomed through this book within a week because I couldn't put it down. I read it in between every class and even during PE as I walked around the track. The story is wonderful and the characters are interesting. The twist in the end was also shocking but in an enjoybale way.

The only real criticism I h
Retelling of a Japanese fairy tale/legend about a fox who falls into infatuation/lust/love with a nobleman, becomes a woman and then his wife. Even with tragedy threaded through the whole story, we are still left with a note of optimism.

With gorgeously lyrical prose with tiny details of customs, strongly evoking medieval Japan, the author has also given us poetry from that period in epigraphs at the head of each part. The three main characters write poetry all through. This novel was a window i
I liked it. Lush descriptive writing, especially of the characters' emotional states. Intriguing theme: why would a fox want to lose part of its wildness to become human? why would a man risk losing his humanity to claim something wild?

Longer review at
although it delves occasionally into erotica, and is occasionally indulgent and purple, this is a beautiful story, not unique exactly but uniquely told. the author handles some of the same themes of identity and belonging in Fudoki, so read that first.
Emlyn Lewis
1) A beautiful mythical tale on animal & human romance
2) Each session comes and goes giving even more depth to the tale
3) Want to know what its like to be a human fox humox foman... This details whats going on through the thoughts of the beings amazingly well

1) Takes long time in the beginning to get things up & rolling.
2) Some boring characters ate up many many pages, leaving me skim through lots
3)The plot could of been "alot" better. Heard the auther has done great short stor
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Endicott Mythic F...: The Fox Woman - Q&A with Kij Johnson -4 48 Jul 08, 2010 08:16AM  
  • In the Cities of Coin and Spice (The Orphan's Tales, #2)
  • The Nightingale
  • The Innamorati
  • Black Swan, White Raven
  • Japanese Tales (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
  • The Wild Swans (Faerie Tale)
  • The Wood Wife
  • Freedom and Necessity
  • In the Forest of Forgetting
  • Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)
  • Moonwise
  • Thomas the Rhymer
  • Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1)
  • Don't Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England
  • When Fox is a Thousand
  • Redemption in Indigo
Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks. She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina ...more
More about Kij Johnson...
At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories Ponies Fudoki Dragon's Honor (Star Trek: The Next Generation, #38) The Man Who Bridged the Mist

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I feel strangely free at such times. To behave properly is to be always courteous, always clever, and subtle and elegant. But now, when I am so alone, I do not have to be any of these things.

For this moment, I am wholly myself, unshaped by the needs of others, by their dreams or expectations or sensibilities.

But I am also lonely. With no one to shape me, who stands here, watching the moon, or the stars, or the clouds?”
“Happiness is the pleasantest of emotions; because of this, it is the most dangerous. Having once felt happiness, one will do anything to maintain it, and losing it, one will grieve.” 15 likes
More quotes…