Published by Candlewick Press on 7th July 2008
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
I’m not going to be short with the praise here. I loved Shadows on the Moon pretty hard. But this isn’t a light-hearted novel to be embarked upon by just anyone. Hardcore epic fantasy fans used to large tomes, new worlds, language and speech that they’re not previously familiar with and novel pacing that takes its time, will be the ones who really get this book.
Suzume is a complicated character with an intense story to tell. Shadows on the Moon chronicles this sprawling, high fantasy tale faithfully and with great attention to detail. Once again, this will probably be something those familiar with the genre will appreciate. The nerdy details and pedantic chronicling of a new world and submersing yourself into it occupies a particular reading niche that’s not going to endear itself with everyone. This is a book for a patient reader, someone easily swept up in something different and amazing. A lot of it hinges on how you relate to Suzume, who I personally adored.
She’s not a typical heroine in that she is vengeful and very dedicated toward that revenge. Bloodthirsty and, at one point, vicious. She doesn’t lie to herself to make nice with the world, she doesn’t make up excuses for other people being horrible. She is an astute observer of human nature, intensely aware of the people around her – flaws and all.
The novel is flush with rich language, and gorgeous writing. Marriot takes her time in description to give form and purpose to every aspect she focuses on. I assure you I don’t want to wax poetical about this and, I’m about to sound really wanky when I say that she often manages to describe the essence of something just as much as what it is.
Steph will say that it just kind of moseyed along and stalled at points. I have a very respectful, well-thought out argument to the contrary.
Don’t go giving me your reasonable, understandable criticisms! I won’t have it!
Of course, there’s two absolute scene stealers in the book: Otieno and Kano. Kano Akira, the fairy godmother, because she was just delightful and sweet and hilarious. Then Otieno because he was delightful and sexy as hell. I loved him so hard and that little lawn scene between him and Suzumi? DAMN girl!
Over all, I loved the writing, the attention to detail, the story telling and the characters. This is most certainly not going to be a book for everyone but it is one of the best damn Cinderella retellings I’ve ever read.