Monday 4 November 2013

Shadows on the Moon - Book Review


Shadows on the Moon

Zoe Marriott

 YA  Fantasy

On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before.

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.

Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.


I loved this book! I flew through it in one sitting – which took me into the early hours of the morning- but it was completely worth the lack of sleep! A fresh spin on the old Cinderella fairytale, Shadows on the Moon is set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan. Weaving together magic, romance and spellbinding intrigue, it is a story that will stay with you for years to come.

The story begins with a young Suzume. Playing with her cousin in her family’s orchard, she is unprepared for the sudden attack on her home. When military officers raid, killing both her father and cousin, it unleashes a power inside her that Suzume never knew she had. A power that on that day, allows her to remain hidden and allude the death fated for her.

With the aid of Youta, a family servant, she escapes the devastation and with his tutoring, learns to control her gifts as a Shadow Weaver.  Born with the ability to create illusions around herself, Suzume can appear as anything she wishes... or anyone. But when her mother remarries, Suzume stumbles across a deadly secret and is forced to use her gifts to flee her home, yet her new step-father, the Lord Terayama, remains in close pursuit. 

Changing from a lady of wealth to a scullery maid, then into the most sought after courtesan of the Moonlit lands, Suzumes heart grows black, consumed only by two goals. Survival, and revenge. But then she meets Otieno, and for the first time in years, she finds her plans faltering as he teaches her what it is to love once again.

Yet Suzume has worked too hard to let Otieno ruin her vengeance now. Prepared to sacrifice both her love and freedom, Suzume will do anything to attend the Shadow Ball. She will bring Terayama to justice once and for all… even if it kills her…

This book is truly amazing. The setting, the characters, each had such life and depth that they felt almost tangible. It was a sad moment when I turned the last page and the story ended.

Loosely based on Cinderella, Zoe Marriott puts her own twist on the old, much loved fairytale. While similarities from the original were clear to see, this book remains uniquely its own story, especially with Suzume being a stronger, and much more complex character than poor Cinders could ever hope to be.

 Otieno is also a very interesting character. With his tattoos and dark skin, Suzume can’t help but be drawn in by his differences. Yet their relationship is based on more than just physical attraction. Otieno has such an innate goodness to him that I felt he helped balance out the darker elements of Suzumes character, and as fate throws the two them together again and again, it became a pleasure to watch their emotional connection grow.

The book also covers some more sensitive issues such as depression and self-harm. These are issues that I don’t think are addressed enough in YA books and I liked how Zoe Marriott drew subtle attention to them without turning the story into something overbearingly dark nor annoyingly preachy. It really made me admire her skills as a writer.

So overall Shadows on the Moon was an amazing read. Beautifully written and with a diverse array of characters, this is a book I would recommend to any lovers of fantasy and fairytale retellings. Mystical, emotional and truly captivating, this is without doubt a five star read!

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