Throwback Thursday involves me picking a book I’ve previously read to talk about, today I’m going to discuss Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott. You can find my original review here.
A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is “Cinderella” meets “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate 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 Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love
I first decided I had to read this book when I saw the cover – the girl is absolutely beautiful & I loved the blossoms; I’m a sucker for judging a book by its cover. I’ve always enjoyed fairytale retellings & I also love books set in Asia, as I find the mythology & culture incredibly interesting – so although this book wasn’t set in Asia, it was set in an Asian-inspired world. The synopsis for Shadows on the Moon is full of mystery & I loved the contrast between the three people Suzume could be; “a girl of noble birth“, “a lowly drudge” & “the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands” I really wanted to know how one person could be all of those things… also, the Moonlit Lands is an awesome name for a setting.
The book very quickly jumped into its plot & I can still remember the quick pace of the first few chapters & picture what happens. At times I felt like the story may become predictable, as a lot of fairytale retellings do, but just as you thought you knew what was going to happen, Zoë spun the story into a totally different direction. The third part of the plot was even more unpredictable, & in some ways it felt like I was reading a totally different story – but in a good way. I loved this book so much, but I would have loved it if Zoë had extended the different parts of the story so that we ended up with three books, rather than one large book; that isn’t a criticism though, I think it’s a compliment that I wanted more so much.
Suzume has ended up being probably my favourite ever human character in a book; I fell so in love with her & the woman that becomes her companion in the third part of the book was incredible as well (I’m trying not to give too much away so I’m avoiding names!) The book did cover self-harm though, which is something any reader needs to be aware of – the scenes were written with so much care & consideration though, & they awoke so much emotion in me. I think the self-harm scenes are what really made me connect with Suzume for the first time, because I understood her reasoning & her emotions were verbalised (is that the right word? eh, I’m sticking with it) so, so well. I understood how she felt & I remember just wanting to hug her so tightly & wanting to tell her that things would be okay, that she would get through what she was dealing with.
Suzume’s story starts with her father being killed & her mother remarrying a family friend – although Suzume eventually starts to really hate him. Something awful happens in Suzume’s new home & she decides that her only option is to run; although she doesn’t get that far, at first. As time moves on Suzume ends up farther & farther away from her new home & she ends up falling into a world that she has absolutely no understanding of. But!, with the help of some good friends, Suzume learns things about herself that she never thought possible & she learns how to be the best version of herself she can be. The story ends with Suzume trying to get her revenge on someone who has wronged her, but that, of course, doesn’t go to plan (well, not entirely). There is a happy ending though & lot of loose ends end up being tied. I’d love a direct sequel (there is a companion novel called Barefoot on the Wind & Zoë has told me that she may write more stories in the Moonlit Lands one day – if she can come up with the right story).
The book involved adventure, heartbreak, passion, companionship, love, excitement, unpredictability & total & utter despair. The world that Suzume lives in isn’t real, but the emotions you feel during the read are very, very real & they make you believe everything you’re reading – you start to believe what you’re reading is really happening. You cry when Suzume cries & you smile when she smiles. Shadows on the Moon is my favourite book to date, it had everything I’ve ever wanted in a book (apart from wolves…) & I constantly find myself wanting to reread it.
You can also find it’s author, the glorious Zoë Marriott on Twitter!