Shadows on the Moon
July 7th 2011
"On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before."
Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.
Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.
Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?
Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.
And nothing will stop her. Not even love.
Wow. Shadows on the Moon was a pretty amazing book. It may be a retelling of Cinderella, but I've never read anything like it. And I really, really enjoyed it. One of the most inventive retellings I've read for a while.
Before I even get to the rest of book I must fangirl about the setting. The book is set in a fantasy land called The Moonlit Land but it was heavily influenced by Japan and I'm such a sucker for Japanese culture and you can really tell Zoe did her research. It was all really accurate (not that I'm an expert... The most I know about Japanese history if from Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Deeper Kyo and InuYasha...) But still, I loved reading about it.
Suzume/Rin/Yue was a really intriguing main character. Even though they are all technically the same person, it was amazing how different they all were, and how much her personality changed due to the situation (unless she was with Otieno...). But she was always angry. She was always after revenge (from about Rin onwards...) for her family. And she was dead set on getting that revenge even if it meant leaving Otieno behind. She was both strong and weak, and while sometimes she did get on my nerves with the whole 'I can't do what I want 'cause I have to get revenge' thing, I could completely understand her and why she was doing it.
Otieno was wonderful. Such as great male lead character.While he had his intense moments, he was very laid back (or at least in comparison to all the people from the Moonlit Land who were all rather reserved and uptight) and loud and just sort of did what he want. He always wanted the best for Suzume, and he was the only one who truly knew her, right from the start. He was rather lovely if I say so myself ;) I also adored Akira. She was one of my favourite characters. I loved sisterly relationship that her and Yue developed, and how Akira always looked out for her and helped Yue do what she wanted even if she didn't always think it the best idea.
Zoe's writing was also wonderful. It was simple but layered (did that make sense?) and was easy to follow but described everything perfectly and vivdly. Every emotion was raw and you could feel it through the pages, especially when Suzume was cutting (which, by the way, I loved the involvement of a very contemporary issue in a fantasy novel.) It was really good, and I must check out her other books.
Shadows on the Moon is a beautiful, different retelling of Cinderella that you are not likely to forget for a while. At least I won't.