On my fourteenth birthday, when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill me.

I really loved Shadows on the Moon. It is set in ancient Japan, and is vaguely based on the story of Cinderella. Sixteen-year-old Suzume has become a shadow-weaver, able to make illusions that confuse people. It is a very powerful skill, and when her mother’s second husband, Lord Terayama, tries to kill her, it is crucial to her survival. You see Terayama basically caused the killing of her father and cousin. Suzume compares him and her mother to a cat and a mouse, which was quite a chilling analogy. Suzume has to assume several aliases, such as Rin, a lowly drudge in Terayama’s kitchen and Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the land.

This is really quite a disturbing book. Suzume copes with her problems by cutting herself, which I supposed was handled well, but that’s never a good thing. I did love the lush historical world that Zoe Marriot created; it felt very authentic. All the Japanese-inspired clothing and culture was interesting and added a nice touch to the story. I also loved the magic that’s thrown in; it didn’t feel overboard, but just right to create a well-crafted historical fantasy.

I didn’t exactly love the characters; Suzume was okay, I guess, but kind of disturbing what with all her revenge-based ideas and indifference towards her own death at the beginning. I understand that Japanese culture is partly about honorable death over dishonorable life, but I wouldn’t think that a sixteen year old girl would be so eager to die at the hands of Terayama. Much like The Wicked and the Just, I loved the historical world (in this case, ancient Japan) and the plot, but the protagonist not so much. I did like Otieno, the mysterious foreign shadow weaver, though. This one can be really heartbreaking, and Lord Terayama is so evil. On the outside, charming, handsome, and honest, and on the inside a black-hearted villain. That’s probably the worst kind of evil: that which you do not suspect. Lord Terayama was portrayed very, very well; I wanted to like him- until he tried to push Suzume off of the boat. I would recommend this to anyone who’s fond of fantasy, historical fiction, or fairy tale retellings. Don’t expect a lovable protagonist though; Suzume/Rin/Yue is very complicated.

Thanks to Candlewick for providing me with a review copy, and McKenzie for recommending it to me.

447 pages.

 
Very Good! I would recommend this book!
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