Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 464 pages
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!