Thursday, 7 July 2011
Shadows on the Moon Review
It’s always nerve racking when you’ve become good friends with an author but you haven’t read their books yet. Then one day, you *DO* read and review one of their books and if I’m honest then I will admit to feeling slightly nervous about reading Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott but having read it, I can see that I need not have been as it was EPIC. EPIC I tell you.
At 461 pages, it’s not a quick read but you know what? I didn’t want it to be a quick read and I don’t feel like it’s intended to be that way, it should be savoured slowly like a cold, juicy ice lolly on a scorching hot summer day. Here’s the synopsis:
"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.”
Set in a fantastical Japan, for me Shadows on the Moon is written in the same vein as Memoirs of a Geisha. I could imagine the rich scenery and smell the cherry blossoms whilst reading and I did have a craving for Japanese food at one point! Zoe’s love and passion for all things Japanese really shone through her writing and it’s clear that the amount of research she has done is immense. I absolutely loved being part of that world and was quite mournful when I finished the book and had to come back to my own world.
What I really *loved* about the story was that absolutely everything had meaning – from the names of the characters to the colours of the kimono’s and the rituals acted out. Yes, it was symbolism but it seems to me that it is also very much a part of the Japanese culture and I enjoyed learning about that as much as I enjoyed the story.
Shadows on the Moon was inspired by the Cinderella story and is supposed to be a fresh take on the classic fairytale. I have to say that not once did I think of Cinderella or make any comparisons. I think this story stands well enough on its own and had I not found out about the Cinderella inspiration, I would not have guessed.
Our “Cinderella” in Shadows on the Moon is Suzume, the main protagonist who takes us on her journey. Suzume is a character that grows from a playful teenage girl into a strong willed and determined young woman who is able to weave shadows and manipulate them at the drop of a hat. I absolutely loved the concept of shadow weaving and how it can be used to mask yourself from the world. Just like a costume or disguise, Suzume is able to reinvent herself whenever she chooses (or it is required) and this is a skill she comes to rely on throughout the book. Enter the dark and mysterious Otieno from a foreign land who is quite different to Suzume but at heart, they are the same. He is a man full of honour and duty and has a heart full of love for no one but Suzume. I loved the way that he always saw right through any of her magic and loved her no matter what she was and what she looked like.
Shadows on the Moon is an epic tale of betrayal, vengeance, love and self discovery. Please God someone make this into a Sunday afternoon movie or a 7 part drama series. This beautiful story needs to be brought to life on the screen.
Shadows on the Moon is published on 7th July, 2011. To find out more about Zoe and her books (The Swan Kingdom, Daughter of the Flames) , click here. You should also check out her awesome blog here which is highly informative and entertaining :) TO WIN a copy of the book and some other awesome prizes, please click here.