Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Her real name is Suzume (sparrow), but she is also Rin (cold) and Yue (moon). That’s because Suzume’s world ended the day her family was murdered. Living with her mother and her new stepfather, Lord Terayama, Suzume inadvertently practices her shadow-weaving: the art of creating illusions out of thin air. Her talent comes in handy as it becomes clearer to her that has life is in grave danger. As Suzume shuffles through her many identities, what happens when her one goal of avenging her father’s death is slowly but surely replaced by another more tender?
YOU GUYS, do you know how long I have waited to read this book? Since Zoe Marriott first revealed the gorgeous UK cover for SHADOWS ON THE MOON, over a year ago. I simply can’t resist a beautiful Asian face on a YA cover, and I have enjoyed Zoe’s previous books. I am so, so happy to say that SHADOWS ON THE MOON was one of those rare books that I didn’t want to end.
There is something great to be said about every element of this book. According to the author’s note, SHADOWS ON THE MOON is not set in feudal Japan, but rather a society similar to it. And Marriott has certainly done her research. Things such as the vocabulary for different kinds of clothing and the exact procedure for a tea ceremony may not add directly to the plot, but they certainly help immerse readers into Suzume’s lush, simultaneously foreign yet familiar, world.
Suzume masterfully treads the thin line between her mask of feigned placidness and actually being a placid character. After all, at what point does the person you pretend to be actually become a part of you? However, Suzume’s soothing narration helps ground what could be melodramatic events, so that they never go beyond the point of credibility. Her reactions to the events happening to her are natural and relatable. We sympathize with Suzume, and also hope that, if we are ever in a similar situation (which hopefully we won’t be!), we can endure in a way as strongly as she does.
SHADOWS ON THE MOON is a big book, but it never feels too long. It is a fantasy of epic worth and length that will nevertheless fly by, appealing even to readers who don’t often read fantasy. Suzume is a heroine for the modern-day reader, and Zoe Marriott’s unique take on the Cinderella tale will have you soaring through its pages.
Cover discussion: I'll admit that I prefer the UK cover slightly more to this one, but the awkwardness of this cover is slightly alieviated when you read the book. Then you get it.
Candlewick / April 24, 2012 / Hardcover / 464pp. / $17.99
e-galley provided by NetGalley and publisher. Thank you so much!