Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott
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.
I got this book and the companion (Barefoot in the Wind) at Walker’s YA Winter Wonderland Event (which was amazing!). I had eyed it before the event but my never ending TBR meant I hadn’t prioritised it (shame on me).
The book is set in the Moonlit Lands which is similar to Japan but not exactly. There is magic, and the Moon is the “god(ess)” of this world. Suzume has a happy life, and is celebrating her birthday, when men come and kill his father and her cousin. She manages to escape by wishing herself to not be there and for them not to see her.
This is a “retelling” of Cinderella, but not the usual kind. Suzume has lost her identity with the shock of everything, and part of her suspects what caused it but then another part of her is in survival mode, and as such she makes use of her shadow weaving inadvertedly.
It was interesting to read it but at times I felt there was a lot trying to happen in one single story that maybe wasn’t necessary. However, all in all, the shadow weaving was an interesting concept and I wish there had been more on that and less on other parts of the story.
The revenge plot line isn’t an immediate “you killed my father (and cousin) prepare to die”. It takes a while for Suzume to figure out who exactly did this and why, despite the fact that it is easy to see it as a reader.
There is also her learning on how to use shadow weaving, and I like Youta, though it felt like he was just there as a plot devise, which I wished he wasn’t, because he was one of my favourite characters (and the hunting falcon).
In general, it was a good twist to Cinderella, and the ending didn’t leave me annoyed or anything. It tied up nicely and made you feel satisfied. But it didn’t stick to me as mucha s I wish it had and I didn’t care much for Suzume, but rather I was curious how the story in general would pan out rather than because I cared about her. This is an odd thing for me, since I usually become either quite invested in the world, the side stories or characters, but for this book, the main thing was the story itself.