June 13, 2012

She Walks in the Light/Dark • Shadows on the Moon

Shadows on the Moon book cover
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: July 7, 2011
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

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.

SHADOWS ON THE MOON is a beautifully written tale - haunting, mysterious and just a touch fantastical. Zoe Marriott certainly has a way with words; the culture and characters she introduced in this novel were memorable and caught my interest right from the start. I basically fell in love with her novel and can only hope that this review does it justice.

The Characters

Suzume is the star of this particular novel - and what a complex character Zoe Marriott gives us. It is certainly heartbreaking and painful for the reader to go along with Suzume on her journey. She experiences a lot of very difficult moments in her life, especially considering how young she is. Though there are often flashes of bitterness and anger and sorrow that cause Suzume to make some very rash choices, I felt, underneath it all, that there was a tender heart and a good spirit to her character - and I guess that's the whole reason I fell in love with her.

There's a whole slew of characters that one will come to appreciate but my two personal favorites are Akira and Otieno. They play a significant role in Suzume's life, but apart from that, they are both very unique individuals.

The Story

I didn't know until after I finished the novel that it's a very loose retelling of Cinderella. You can certainly see elements of the classic tale in this story, although that really wasn't something that was obvious to me. I was entirely too preoccupied enjoying the story for what it was, including the introduction of shadow-weaving and the history behind the Shadow Bride and the setting and characters.

I loved that the tale is set in a place that's very similar to Japan. I've always found Japanese culture fascinating, especially considering how strongly Japan holds on to it as a nation. The rituals, the outfits, the language - they were all very authentic to me.

The history and mythology behind the Shadow Bride and behind shadow-weaving was fascinating to me. I loved this special aspect of the story, especially shadow-weaving. It's always fun to contemplate being able to change your appearance or make others see something different than what actually exists.

The Bottom Line

This is a must-read for me, as it combines the elements of fantasy, Japanese culture and hints of fairy tale in its telling. SHADOWS ON THE MOON is certainly a gripping read, despite the formality of the language, and I truly believe that it's an enjoyable, if emotional read.


  1. I LOVE fairytale retellings and a Japanese version of Cinderella sounds beyond amazing! I actually have this one, I should get to it soon! I kinda love getting my heart broken right along with a character :)

  2. It's surprisingly good. I loved it! But then again, I'm a sucker for Japanese culture ;)

  3. I love Japanese culture,, unique culture makes me want to get to Japan


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