Title: Shadows on the Moon
Author: Zoe Marriott
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Borrowed from my library's e-book collection
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.
"On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us."
In a Sentence
Compelling and creative, Zoe Marriott's Shadows on the Moon is one of the best Cinderella retellings I've ever encountered.
Shadows on the Moon was another book that I picked up for the 2012 YA Bloggers Book Battle. I'd had several of Marriott's books on my to-read list for some time, so when two of her titles made the longlist for the battle (Shadows on the Moon and The Swan Kingdom), I was determined to read at least one before my part in the battle was over! Since Shadows on the Moon was the first one to come through my library's e-book reserve system, it was the book I ended up reading.
First of all, I have to say that Marriott did a FANTASTIC job of grabbing my attention right off the bat. I mean, did you SEE that first line? Who wouldn't want to read a book with that kind of opener? But the first line wasn't the only thing that drew me into the story. In the first few chapters, Suzume goes through such an intense, horrible, emotional experience, that I immediately connected with her. After seeing what happens to her, I think it would have been difficult for me NOT to sympathize with Suzume's situation. I wanted to reach into the book and hug the crap out of this poor little girl who'd just had her entire world ripped away from her. Obviously, I couldn't do that, but I was definitely going to stick around to see what else happened!
After the loss of her family, Suzume becomes a damaged young woman with an identity crisis who has lost all forms of hope. She can barely keep herself from falling apart. The one thing she clings to is seeking revenge on Terayama-san, the man who destroyed her life. However, on her quest for revenge, Suzume meets several people who can see the burden she suffers from, and slowly but surely, these characters begin to chip away at her stony facade. One of these characters, Akira, absolutely fascinated me because she was unconventional and (for me) completely unexpected. I won't say much more than that though, because I think that a large part of her likability was a result of her character being revealed piece by piece...with a substance and complexity that is often missing in secondary characters.
For a Cinderella retelling, I was not expecting the dark, serious atmosphere that I got with Shadows on the Moon. This book deals with a LOT of topics, including everything from the loss of a family member to self-mutilation to gender issues to identity formation. I mean, those are some HEAVY HITTERS, guys! But still, in spite of the many serious issues that Shadows on the Moon addresses, there are lighter, happier moments to break it all up, and in the end...it was the serious parts that made this book for me.
I have to be honest with you guys...though I watched the Disney version of Cinderella quite a few times as a kid, I was never the biggest fan of her. I always felt that she should have fought back against her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, and that Prince Charming only valued her for her beauty. Though he gets props for not caring about Cinderella's servant background, I always felt like he really knew nothing about her. Plus, the whole idea of wishing desperately for a man to come save you kind of irritates my feminist side. For those of you who feel similarly, then Shadows on the Moon is a book you should try. Suzume is anything but a weak, simpering female, and even though she's incredibly damaged, she also shows amazing inner strength.