Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Shadows on the Moon

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 464 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: 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.

Set in a fantasy version of Japan, Shadows on the Moon is about a young girl, Suzume, who suffers a horrible injustice and becomes obsessed with getting revenge, even if cost her everything: her identity, love and even her freedom.

Suzume is the Cinderella-like character in this fairytale retelling but she is like no other Cinderella you have ever met. She is flawed and vulnerable yet so incredibly strong. I am a very character driven reader and I absolutely loved Suzume, even when she was making awful decisions based on her need for vengence. Zoe Marriott writes Suzume’s tumultuous emotions so well, I felt like I was experiencing them with her. I so wanted her to get revenge on her oppressors! I know it was wrong but Suzume’s pain was so real and the injustice so great, I wanted them to pay for what they did.

I am an escapist reader and tend to avoid issues books and Shadows on the Moon has some serious issues. Suzume has a lot of anger and is depressed. Her mother, a cold and uncaring woman, won’t let her talk about her pain so Suzume starts cutting herself to release her pent up emotions. We are not talking a onetime thing here guys, she cuts repeatedly throughout the book. Normally, heavy issues like this would be a turn-off for me but Marriott’s writing is so good and the entire plot is so well done, I could not stop reading this book!

The secondary characters are also very well written and I was most surprised by Suzume’s love interest, Otieno. He was strong, handsome and totally unexpected! I love that Marriott does not focus on the romance in this book. It’s something that sustains Suzume but it’s her need for revenge that drives her and the story.

I have not even touched on the magical, shadow weaving aspects of this story or the breathtaking setting (while it’s fantasy, looks a lot like feudal Japan) – they are awesome and not to be missed!

Overall, Shadows on the Moon is a fantastic fantasy novel with very realistic contemporary issues. It’s dark, it’s sad, I could not put it down and the ending is completely satisfying. This is my first book by Zoe Marriott but it will not be my last. I already got one of her earlier books, Daughter of the Flames, from my library and I can’t wait to dig in! 

Content: Implied sex, kissing and violence. There are some mature themes that you may want to discuss with your teens before they read this book including the cutting/self-harm (that I mentioned before) and contemplated suicide. There is also a transgender character who has a long term relationship with a married man and characters discuss prostitution. This book is recommended for older/more mature teens and adults.

My Rating: The Best!


Nicola said...

Great review! I have this on my Kindle and I keep meaning to read it. I didn't realize it dealt with such heavy issues though! Thanks for the warning. I hope I enjoy this one too. :)

Debz said...

This book is one of my favorites of 2012. I went into it now knowing much, and all the dark themes took my by surprise, but I was quickly absorbed into the world the Zoe created. You can find more of my thoughts here. Thanks for the amazing review!

Deepali said...

I'm an escapist reader TOO!!


Dee, from e-Volving Books

KM said...

I can't WAIT to read this book! And I'm so glad that you loved it! Great review :-)

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) said...

WOW! I've never read a Zoe Marriott but I've had people recommend her to me before. But then I look up her books and have no idea where to start. It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only first-timer out there, and since this was your first, maybe I'll just start here.

Like you, I tend to read to escape and I like to try and avoid the issue books. But you've made quite a compelling case for this one. It sounds really great. Thanks for the review!

Truly Bookish said...

Nicola, don't let the heavy stuff scare you off, it sooo worth reading in spite of/because of it. Marriott is an amazing writer to make all this work.

Debz, this is one of fav fantasy novels of 2012 too!

Deepali, Yay for escapists readers :-)

KM, read this book! I think you will like it too!

Asheley, Shadows combines the contemporary issues with the fantasy elements perfectly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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