by Zoë Marriott
Rating: Really Liked It
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.
When I read that tagline I couldn't help but be interested. While I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, it definitely wasn't what I got. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Actually, quite the opposite. One reason I was so surprised I loved this book was because this is about as far from a happy book as you can possibly get. Shadows on the Moon is a hauntingly beautiful story about a young girl's journey of self-discovery and redemption.
This is one of those books where I both love and hate the main character. While I hated some of her decisions and wanted to yell at her, I understood why. When you first meet Suzume we get a glimpse of a young, mischievous little girl. But all to quickly her world is turned upside down. Her father and cousin are murdered before her eyes while she is lucky enough to get away. As you can imagine, this creates a huge amount of guilt in her. When he mother returns she won't let Suzume talk about what happened. Instead she just wants to move on therefore making all of this guilt build up inside of Suzume. Suzume eventually becomes a shell of her former self and keeps all of her emotions bottled up inside, causing her grief and anger to consume her.
This story takes you on Suzume's journey for revenge and self-discovery. Revenge takes over her whole life and all she sees is fighting for her family. This guilt and anger consumes her. While this book was beautifully written, it was also incredibly hard to read. How Suzume deals with her depression was so incredibly heartbreaking. I can completely understand that she wants to avenge her family and make the one who did it pay for it, but I wanted to smack her because she went about it the wrong way. All she thought about was revenge and this was all her decisions were based on, no matter who they hurt. She wouldn't even let herself be happy because she wanted revenge so badly. My heart ached for her and her loss, but I wanted to jump into the book and show her that there were other ways of dealing with her depression.
The secondary characters were well written, each with their own important part in this story. I actually hated her mother. She was weak, pathetic, and absolutely refused to stand up for herself. She could care less about Suzume and it was no wonder she was ruined. Her step-father was....insane. While I loved the romantic interests' faith in Suzume, I didn't love him. He truly cared about Suzume and wanted to be there for her no matter what, but for some reason I wasn't really feeling it. Its hard to get to really know him since I don't feel like he's really in the book that much. I truly loved Akira though. However, the ugh...reveal...was...weird? and to be honest kind of turned me off. But, that's just me. However, I still really liked her. She always tried to turn Suzume in the right direction and even if she didn't agree with her she always supported her. She became the sister she never had.
To say this book was beautifully written is an understatement. Marriott is clearly a gifted writer. While I figured I wouldn't read this book when it became to depressing and I didn't like the character's actions, her writing was so well done that I became entranced. Even though these things bugged me, her words helped me understand Suzume's feelings.
Shadows on the moon is a story full of magic. Suzume's abilities help her find herself and define who she is. It is a way for her to connect with others and come to terms with herself and others.
Shadows on the Moon is a magical story about an abandoned and heartbroken girl learning to find herself. Is her journey easy? No. It's far from. While depressing and frustrating at times, I couldn't help but root for Suzume. She didn't deserve anything that happened to her but had to learn how to deal with it. This story is wonderfully written and hauntingly beautiful. I know that I will definitely keep an eye out for more of Marriott's books.
All the best ♥