Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review of Shadows on the Moon

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.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Readers looking for a YA book that's an experience
High point: The writing style
Low point:  Terayama was two-dimensional compared to the other characters
Reader maturity:  13+

Shadows on the Moon masterfully molds the timeless themes of love and betrayal into a riveting tale set in ancient/fairytale Japan. With a new wardrobe, Suzume could be a girl of the 21st century. Instead, she's trapped in a twisted maze of revenge generations in the making.

I enjoyed the beautiful imagery and glimpses into the lifestyles of nobility, servants and gijo. The city came to life under Ms. Marriott's pen. Suzume's special abilities are beautifully described. In my mind's eye, I could see her covering her scars and deceiving her stepfather. The shadow-weaving is an integral part of the story, and the frequent descriptions contribute without overwhelming or becoming tedious.

Just a word of warning (and possible SPOILER ALERT)--Suzume self-injures. Her condition is treated respectfully and her journey to health is certainly a positive message, but the descriptions of her self-abuse, while not disturbingly graphic, per se, are still vivid and could serve as a trigger to some or be considered too mature a topic for younger readers.

In short, Shadows on the Moon is beautiful and magnificent in its descriptions of Japan and Suzume's shadow-weaving abilities. The touch of romance adds lightness, and Suzume's journey of personal growth from innocent to avenger to the strong young woman she becomes is one of the best I've ever read.

Title:  Shadows on the Moon
Author:   Zoe Marriott
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Fantasy, Cultural
Year:   2012
Book Source:  Received an ARC for review from Candlewick Press

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