Rummanah Aasi
  Fairy tale retellings seem to have become a big trend this year. I've already read quite a few, some of which are good while others are okay. While we may know how the story ends, I like to see how each author makes their retelling different whether it is switching the heroes and the villains, time periods, or even settings. Zoe Marriott's Shadow on the Moon is a unique and refreshing take on Cinderella. Thank you to Candlewick Press and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description (from Publisher): 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.

Review: We all know of the poor, passive Cinderella who has been abused and taken advantage of by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters and patiently waits for justice to be served. Suzume is not that kind of Cinderella. In fact she's a fiery girl hellbent on revenge set in an alternative Asian world that is heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese cultures. On the day Suzume turns 14, her family is destroyed. Soldiers arrive to slaughter her father, who is falsely accused of treason. In a moment of fight or flight, Suzume and her sister desperately try to escape but only Suzume somehow escapes, and with the aid of Youta, a mysterious "cinderman," manages to evade the soldiers until Suzume's mother returns. Terayama, her father's best friend, quickly takes mother and daughter under his protection by marrying Suzume's mother. As Suzume learns more about her parents' involvement with Terayama, she discovers reasons to hate and fear him. While it's easy to label Teraysama as the wicked-stepfather role, Marriott also doesn't leave Suzume's mother pure either. My favorite part of Shadows on the Moon is how Marriott creates these complex and wonderful villains, who not only fulfill their fairy-tale roles but they are also very human. We know that they are despicable, but we can also understand their choices and reasoning.
  Suzume goes through several transformations throughout the story, which add layers of complexity to her character. I wouldn't necessarily pin her as a heroine or a villain making her a delight to dissect and analyze. She is without a doubt emotionally damaged and has a knack to harm herself in order to feel. Though we applaud her in her aggressive plan to avenge her family, but we also shocked by her tunnel vision and how she places revenge as her number own priority even above love. 
  Shadows on the Moon is a compelling read and I was completely fascinated by the mythology of the "shadow weavers" and I loved picking up the Chinese and Japanese influences found in the book. There is romance in the book, which I thought was sweet and a nice bonus to this dark story. I'd definitely recommend picking this book up if you are curious about Eastern cultures or like a dark, fresh fairy-tale retellings. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are allusions to sex in the book, some strong violence, and scenes of self-cutting. Recommended for Grades 9 and up. 

If you like this book try: Cinder by Marisa Meyer, For Asian inspired fantasies: Eona by Alison Goodman, Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Oooo this sounds really interesting! I love a book with a creative and intriguing new mythology and this one definitely seems to have that. I'm always a sucker for an emotionally damaged character as well so I think I would like this one!

  2. This sounds really good, I like all the twists and reinventing of the Cinderella theme. I love dark fairy tales and I am always interested in learning about other cultures. I want to check this out!

  3. I wondered about this one on NetGalley, but had already overloaded myself so I didn't try for it. I'm so glad you read it. It sounds great. Not your typical retelling at all. The self injury part is different. And the revenge. But then I always thought Cinderella was a little too passive considering how she was treated. And the Shadow Weavers concept sounds fascinating. Do you know if that is made up or if that is part of Asian mythology? I'll have to read this one. Great review!


  4. @Jenny: I had no idea about the fairy tale retelling until I finished putting the pieces together.

    @Heidi: I loved the cultural touches throughout the book.

    @Heather: I think the shadow weaver concept is made up but it sounds SO cool!

  5. Nice review! I love the sound of the villains - they're always so much better when they're complex and less one-dimensional. Seems like an interesting retelling,

  6. I haven't heard of this one, which really is no surprise as I've been hiding in a big dark hole for awhile, but it sounds absolutely wonderful. I do love retellings, but it seems that lately so many of them are almost...the same. Shadows on the Moon sounds fascinating. I'm going to have to put this one on my TBR and pick it up soon. Excellent review, Rummanah!

  7. Ooooh! Villains you can sympathize with. That does make a story more enticing.

    I've notice the trend too, but have been avoiding it. But I love the sound of this one because a different culture is explored.

  8. Rummanah, I love fairytale re-tellings so it's weird that I haven't heard of this one. I'll be checking it out because I like that this version of Cinderella isn't passive. I also really like that the story isn't set in North America and features Asian characters.

  9. Okay, your review totally convinced me. I so need to put this toward the top of my wishlist. This looks so good! Oh and you put Eona on the wishlist as well. ;D

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