Wednesday, March 28, 2012

[NetGalley + ARC Review]: "Shadows on the Moon"

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Publisher: Candlewick (April 24, 2012)
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Summary (
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.

Where to Buy*:
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My Review:

Anyone familiar with my review style knows that I often begin a review with a shortened summary of the book. However, upon finishing Shadows on the Moon, I pulled out my notebook...and found myself still staring at the blank paper ten minutes later. As much as I enjoyed Zoe Marriott's newest novel, I simply could not write a summary on it. It's impossible. The storyline is not simple; it cannot be summed up in a few brief sentences—at least not my sentences! If I tried to do so, not only would I ruin the beauty of this novel, but I'd probably confuse you while trying accurately explain it.

So I will limit my “summary” attempt to this brief sentence: Shadows on the Moon is a beautiful story of revenge—and how holding it in can turn hideous.

See? I told you I do not possess the words, nor the skill, to describe this tale. Now you are no doubt wondering what is so special about this book? Well, let me see if I can at least answer that question.

As I've explained before (see my other reviews on Marriott's work, here and here), Zoe Marriott has the rare ability to weave wonderful, relatable stories with a lush, fantasy setting. Though they may be completely make-believe, mere figments of Marriott's imagination, the story seems so real, so vivid, that you would think you were watching an actual scene unfold in front of your eyes. Marriott proves this yet again in Shadows on the Moon, putting enough rich details and flowing descriptions onto the pages to make them come alive in your hands.
However, while I was able to clearly picture the world, characters, and settings in her previous novels, I had a harder time doing so with Shadows on the Moon. It wasn't from lack of talent on Marriott's part (far from it!) but rather from the added complexity that this fantasy world had in it. I didn't have a clue what many of the outfits described in this book actually looked like—it was simply beyond any items I've seen and therefore could connect to the descriptions provided. For other readers, this may not be nearly as big of a problem.
Suzume's character was one that I had a slightly harder time connecting to as well. She was very strong, surviving through everything life threw at her. And yet I couldn't get a solid fell for her true character. She was so obsessed with her plans for revenge, and while I could understand the reason behind it (her father and cousin's murder) I couldn't connect with it. By the end of the book, I was relieved that she finally made it past her all-consuming drive for revenge; it was quickly becoming an annoyance, at least for me. Much longer and I might have put the book aside...

Some of the themes in this book are not common, at least in most novels; nor are they ones to cast aside without much thought. Suzume enjoys causing herself pain, be it from cutting herself (with pins and other sharp objects she has nearby) or burning herself. I couldn't relate to it because, luckily, I have never had these thoughts before. But I know that such problems are far more common that many of us wish to believe, and I applaud Zoe for what she has done in this story. It's not an easy topic, and writing about it can probably be as emotionally draining as actually dealing with the problem. Zoe, you have done a truly wonderful job at explaining this to us, showing us what Suzume is feeling and the troubles she is dealing with. It was hard for me to read it at times, so I can only imagine how hard it was for you to create it.

As much as I enjoyed reading about all the customs that make up this fantasy world, I was more interested in the magic that Suzume and Otieno were suppose to have (shadow-weaving). Yet it was this aspect of the story that was pushed aside for the most part, and only the basics were explained. I wanted more, and I kept hoping for it, but I was left wanting by the time I reached the last page. I was also hoping for more of the romance between Suzume and Otieno, but again, I was left unfulfilled. Although I will say that what was there, for both the magic and the romance, was well done.

4 STARS! Another wonderful fantasy by a truly talented author, one whose writing seems to flow like beautiful music from the pages. While Shadows on the Moon is not my favorite book by Zoe Marriott, it was still a very good, solid read, and one that I will return to in the future. For anyone that loves a good fantasy novel, this one is the perfect choice. Well-written, entertaining, and complete with a touch of romance, Shadows on the Moon is one of those rare novels that will transport you into the very pages of the story!

I received this e-book ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.



Until Next Time,
*TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!


DBookWhore said...

This book sounds amazing! I might just have to request it from Netgalley, great review.

Blodeuedd said...

Oh cool, set in Japan, now that is different for me and I like that :)

The_Book_Queen said...

:) You should! I really did enjoy it, and I love her other books (which I also highly recommend reading!).


The_Book_Queen said...

I really liked that it was set in Japan. Not only did it make the story different, but I liked the culture and world that Zoe described to us.

I think you would like this one, and I know you'd love her other YA books, if you have yet to read them.