21 May 2012

YA Book Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Release Date: 24 April 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Get a copy! Amazon | B&N

Goodreads description:
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
My Thoughts...
The classic Cinderella is beautifully re-imagined in Shadows on the Moon as a tale of heartbreak and revenge. Woven into the tapestry of a fantasy world, Shadows on the Moon tells the story of Suzume, whose father and cousin were brutally murdered right in front of her--a day that will haunt her all her life. Life goes on for some, but Suzume constantly grapples to pull herself into her new world--her step-father's world.  Revelations will shatter her world and choices will leave her drowning in her sorrow and remorse--until she is offered the chance at vengeance and will stop at nothing to get it.

Something about Suzume captured me from the first pages. Her personality had a depth that we see throughout the novel as she grows up, transforming, through unfortunate circumstances, from a spunky young girl to a shadowed young woman shut off from her emotions and world. Her strength, however beaten she may seem at points, is incredible and it is emphasized in her moments of cunning and bravery. She's a survivor and someone who makes difficult decisions, but her ferocity is often tempered by moments of frailty that remind the reader that she's really just a young girl.

The world that Ms. Marriott has crafted was beautifully done.  The descriptive and formal writing style, while a tad jolting at the beginning, is something that you settle into gradually. As I delved deeper into the story, the setting came alive more and more and I could imagine myself walking down the paths right alongside Suzume. While the world is a fictional fantasy land, Ms. Marriott seems to draw from Japanese culture and I loved how beautifully those elements were woven into the story.  It really added a profound sense of culture to the world.

Shadows on the Moon is a fairy tale retelling that really stood out to me.  The unique world and characters made this story so much more than just another retelling for me. The way that she moved the story alone rang true as a Cinderella re-telling but in the end the unique elements that Marriott added make it stand on its own as a unique story that explores deeper emotions--fear, loss, betrayal, and revenge.

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