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Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Shadows on the Moon (edition 2011)

by Zoe Marriott

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1721969,056 (4.17)10
Title:Shadows on the Moon
Authors:Zoe Marriott (Author)
Info:Walker (2011), Paperback, 454 pages
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned, Read
Tags:fiction, read, 2012, library, december, fantasy, nn, pseudo-japan, oriental, shadows, magic, romance, revenge

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Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott



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This book came highly recommended, but I started it with great wariness. I have now read three books by Zoe Marriott. The first I loathed, the second was okay then there was "Shadows on the Moon" - it was brilliant! Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

Set in an imaginary land, reminiscent of fuedal Japan, the author has created a fabulously believable country with descriptions so beautifully and vividly detailed that the reader can't help but wish they were actually there.

Suzume is a wonderful protagonist, feisty and determined, but with flaws. She is also a shadow weaver able to influence what people see and I found her someone I could easily empathise with as she moves from an innocent child to a deeply troubled young woman. Akita is also another fascinating character, as is Otieno. The romance that develops between Susume and Otieno is sweet and extremely touching.

I also love the front cover of this book and the trailer promotes the book perfectly - check it out! Overall, this is an amazing story loosely based on the fairytale "Cinderella" and deals with betrayal, revenge, loss and grief. From the first page I was enthralled, and the action and danger that surrounds Suzume from the start made it impossible to put this book down until it was finished. "Shadows on the Moon" would also make a stunning movie if done properly. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
Shadows on the Moon is a retelling of Cinderella set in a Japanese based setting. I found it to be a very good retelling, partly because it is different enough from the original tale that I didn’t know where it was going. Seriously, if I was making a list of best Cinderella retellings in YA, Shadows on the Moon would be listed just after Ella Enchanted.

Shadows on the Moon begins with the destruction of Suzume’s family and home. Out of nowhere, her father is accused of treason and killed along with any household members the armed men can find. Afterwards, Suzume goes to live with her mother, who was away at the time of the attack, and the sinister man who will shortly become her stepfather.

Suzume’s got a lot of problems, not just in terms of her situation but in terms of how she deals with her emotions. To keep herself calm, she takes to cutting herself, or sometimes burning herself. This occurs through the vast majority of the book. Suzume… she’s a mess but ultimately sympathetic. I love how she’s allowed to be morally grey and not completely perfect.

I thought there were some weird things going on with the love interest. What’s so annoying is that it’d be very easy to cut out a few lines and make him less creepy. There’s one part where Suzume asks what he would have done if she wouldn’t go with him, and he said that he brought rope to tie her up with. And this is treated as romantic! Seriously, why do authors keep doing this sort of thing? It makes him sound like a serial killer!

The setting of Shadows on the Moon is clearly based on Japan, despite the author’s note trying to claim that it’s not meant to represent anywhere in particular. I’m not the best person to be discussing how Marriott handled Japanese culture, but I didn’t notice anything horribly wrong. I suggest this review from a Japanese reviewer if you want to know more.

Even setting aside the Japanese based setting, there was more diversity than you might expect. The love interest comes from an African based culture, and one of the important mentor figures is a transwoman (and she doesn’t die).

Besides the creep factor going on with the love interest, my main complaint is that the book ended very suddenly. The main decisions were made within a few pages and then everything stopped. I would have liked a bit more time spent on the ending.

I would recommend Shadows on the Moon. I found it gripping and engaging, one of the most refreshing Cinderella retellings I have come across.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Dec 9, 2015 |
Quite enjoyed this! It's considerably darker than I expected (the main character suffers considerably, and deals realistically with the psychological aftermath of that suffering) but very rich and vivid, with wonderful characters and a satisfying ending!
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Setting, story, and characters were multi-faceted and compelling. I kept getting incredibly frustrated with the main character--GET OVER IT, ALREADY!!--but that's what made it feel more real. However, I was kept from a higher rating because of one lie told by an otherwise trustworthy person, upon which much action depends. I found it unbelievable and it kind of lessened the impact of some of later events. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
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! ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
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On my fourteenth birthday, when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us.
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Book description
It's Cinderella, turned on its head and set in a faerytale version of Feudal Japan. It's a story about revenge, and obsession and about magic, and about what happens when people lie to themselves and others. But mostly - and most importantly - it's about love, in all its varied, beautiful and frightening forms.

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate 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 Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love
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A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Zoë Marriott is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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