Thursday, April 26, 2012
Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott
Author: Zoë Marriott
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
Genre: YA, Fairy Tales
Synopsis: "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.
Review: I love it when a book surprises me in such a positive way that, although I don't expect it, I fall in love and hate when the story ends. This was exactly what happened with "Shadows on the Moon."
The story is apparently a re-telling of the classic Cinderella story, set in an imagined interpretation of feudal Japan. I use the word "apparently," because I really had no clue, while I was reading it, that this was a re-telling until I saw another blogger mention it. The story is so unique and nontraditional, that the parallels of Marriott's tale and Cinderella are only there if you really dig for them. 'Shadows on the Moon" itself is completely stand-alone and has an ability to keep you guessing.
The story focuses on Suzume, a young girl with a very special talent called "shadow weaving." This talent enables her to "weave" illusions over herself - cloaks of night and darkness, serene facial expressions, and other physical perceptions. Her skill comes in handy the day men come to kill her father. Without knowing what is happening, Suzume uses her gift to escape a grim fate and ends up haunted with the knowledge that she survived when she shouldn't have.
Her new life becomes one big illusion, and her need for revenge becomes her one ultimate goal. It is out of this need that Suzume encounters twists and turns, all of which paint a thoroughly imagined and engrossing story. I'm not going to lie - there are points in the book that are dark, and the themes dealt within are controversial and more contemporary. Marriott writes these so well into a book that is historical in nature, without making them feel out of place.
Vivid, and engaging, the story is really one that transports you into a different world - a world of exotic strangers, kimono-clad ladies, and blooming cherry blossoms. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters alike and would strongly recommend this book to anyone - not just lovers of fairy tale re-tellings.