Review: Shadows on the Moon

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Shadows on the MoonShadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott
Published by Candlewick on April 24, 2012
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Pages: 447
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A powerful tale of magic, love, and revenge set in fairy-tale Japan.

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

First Sentence: “On my fourteenth birthday, when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us.”

Review:
The opening of this novel definitely grabbed my attention. I mean, her family is attacked, most of them killed, and there are the first signs of her power. Um, awesome and tragic? I think so. On top of some of her family members dying, Suzume also has to deal with the fact that since her dad was marked a traitor, if anyone finds the remaining members, they too will be killed, as will anyone who helps them. Yikes, right?

This is a thing that happens a lot in history and probably now too. People get judged based on the actions of a single family member. For example, in Escape from Camp 14, which I read a few weeks ago, if a family member is found guilty of treason, the whole family is condemned to a camp…for generations. Families are raised in the camps; they have schools, because even the kids born after the incident are guilty of whatever their parents or grandparents did, so they can’t leave. Argh! This makes no freaking sense, so how about we stop doing it! People can’t help their families!

Oh, also inspired by this book is a rant about being a woman. Basically, it can be summed up into the following: it sucks to be a woman! Certainly, it sucked hardcore to be a woman in the past. While this book is definitely not straight historical fiction, I don’t doubt the accuracy of every single female being completely at mercy of male society. Argh! Whoever it was that originally decided women should be second class citizens, I hope he never got any and I hope he’s in the special hell.

Anyway, done ranting now and going back to the book. I loved it, even if it did make me ranty. Most historical fiction does that to me, because the way people were treated just makes me so mad. The storytelling is completely beautiful. I spent much of the book trying to figure out if it was history with a small fantasy element or a history based on Japan. It seems to be a combination of both, a retelling set in a fairy tale Japan. Whatever that means. Definitely not ‘History,’ because I’m pretty sure Onieto’s country does not really exist, and that, even if it does exist somewhere in Africa, there was no trade with Japan. Marriott openly says at the end that this not intended to be history at all.

Speaking of Onieto, my goodness does Marriott know how to write a scene to make the reader swoon. He’s amazing. I love how he accepts Suzume with any name and any face. I love that he can sense her. I love how sweet he is to her, and how much respect he has for her. Which, of course, meant that every time Suzume breaks his heart because she feels as though she is unworthy of love, I wanted to smack her upside the head and tell her to lock it down. If someone amazing is willing to love you, accept that miracle, don’t push them away to create a self-fulfilling prophecy about your not deserving love!

I mentioned that this is a retelling of a fairy tale. Apparently, the fairy tale in question is Cinderella. I would never have figured that out, had I not read reviews by other bloggers. While I totally sensed the fairy tale-ish quality too it, the story definitely didn’t bring a particular tale to mind, nor, thinking of Cinderella, am I especially convinced. Only very loosely does it fit my conceptions of Cinderella at all. Some liberal changes have been made. I approve of what Marriott has done, but it just came out feeling more like her own story than a retelling, if that makes any sense. Actually, the more I think on it, the more impressed I am about the skews she put on the original fairy tale, like how her evil step-mother is a combination of her step-father and her jealous mother. Ouch.

Suzume can be hard to like sometimes. She makes a lot of bad decisions, blinded by her pain and her hurt. Rather than dealing with her admittedly awful life in healthy ways, she cuts herself and throws herself at vengeance. She’s much colder and more calculating than a lot of YA heroines, a lot less interested in love or her own well-being. Still, I could not help but root for her, both because she was a mess for a reason and because I love Onieto.

Shadows on the Moon is haunting and beautiful. Though I was not previously familiar with Marriott’s work, you had better believe I’ll be hunting more of it down!

3 responses to “Review: Shadows on the Moon”

  1. Nicole says:

    Hey Chrsitina I sent you an e-mail about 48 hours ago because you won my Ashes giveaway, can you please check your spam folder or e-mail me so I can get your address? Thanks!

    E-mail: epicbookadventures@gmail.com

  2. KaylaBeck says:

    I started this once, and then I put it down. I think I’ll give it one more go since you rated it so highly.

    • Christina says:

      Ahhhhh! It’s so cool. Very dark, though. Most of the other bloggers I follow loved it as well, so it’s probably worth trying again. It picks up a lot when she gets older, if you didn’t make it to then.

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