Monday 4 July 2011

Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott

Pages 45
Published in July 2011 by Walkers Books
Book kindly sent by publisher.

On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us We saw them come, Aime and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before. 

Suzume's life nearly ends when her father is convicted of treason. From that day on she is constantly on the run, changing her personality to suit her situation. As she transforms herself through many disguises and identities, she finally settles upon Yue, a courtesan, who is destined to steal the heart of the Prince at the Shadow Ball. Everyone is convinced that she will win his love, but none are aware of her real reasons for wanting it. She is hell bent on revenge and will stop at nothing until her evil stepfather Terayami is destroyed. Nothing will stand in her way, not even love.

Over the past six months I have got to know Zoë Marriott quite well via Twitter and I loved reading her first book The Swan Kingdom, so I was a little worried to read Shadows On The Moon, in case I didn't love it as much. Thankfully, I found that I loved it even more and I could see how Zoë had progressed as a writer. 

Shadows On The Moon is described as a retelling of Cinderella. I would say it was more of a fresh, modern and original approach to the life of a girl, who will no longer be downtrodden. Suzume is so much more gutsy and go getting that Cinderella ever was. She becomes a real tough cookie after suffering so much in a short space of time. Also, the fact that the story is set in a glorious magical version of Japan, where certain people had the power to be Shadow Weavers allowing them to create a mantle of darkness to hide them as well as changing their whole appearance to make them look more beautiful. Just stunning. 

I loved Suzume from the first page.  Her innocence abruptly brought to an end and left in a world where she instantly needs to grow up. Yet she is still a child who is crying out for help as her self harming eases her pain. Her mother is too blind to her daughter's needs and I felt no sympathy for her at all. My heart ached for Suzume and I felt passionate that revenge was the right thing for her to do. Her transformation from innocence to hard hitting was definitely needed.

Another of my favourite characters from the book has to be Akira. She was such a gorgeous character to read about and her instant love and gratitude towards Suzume made me love her even more. Akike is rather special and extremely magical and I felt that everyone should have an Akira in their lives to make it a little brighter.  To be honest, most of the secondary characters within this book stand out so clearly that they stay with you after you have finished reading the book. 

There is a touch of the supernatural within the book which really appeals to me. Certain elements of healing and outer body experiences that always pull me into a story. I also found the Gijo fascinating to learn about and elements of the story brought back memories of my love for Memoirs of a Geisha. 

I love the way Zoë writes, her words just flow off the pages. There isn't a cliche to be found and her descriptions are just so fresh and original.  

Here are a couple of my favourite lines from the book. 

'The sun was setting now, and the water was gleaming bronze with crests of fire as it moved, deep and mysterious.'

'It is strange how grief turns happy memories to knives that pierce you'

The book was packed full of surprises, twists and turns that left me surprised and shocked. On nearing the end, I was actually panicking that the story would end on a cliff hanger, because I could not envisage how the author would be able to wrap up all the loose ends within in the last few pages. Zoë completely surprised me by doing it with expertise as she effortlessly finished off the story, leaving me satisfied by the last page. It wasn't rushed at all, as Zoë smoothly weaved the story together, showing how experienced an author she really is.

Shadows On The Moon has already won an award before publication and I can't say I am surprised. The book won the prestigious Sasakawa Prize, an award gifted for outstanding contributions to the promotion of understanding and co-operation between the citizens of Japan and  Great Britain. I doubt that this will be the last award the book will win.

I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who has read and loved Memoirs of a Geisha. If you are looking for an Oriental magical experience, then look no further, I present you with Shadows On The Moon!


  1. *Wordlessly Squeezes Viv Really, Really Hard*

  2. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha but have to say the fact that this is often described as a re-telling of Cinderella does put me off a bit.

  3. What a beautiful review it really must be a beautiful book as you dont give priase that high very often.
    Congrats on the award Zoe you deserve it :D

  4. Petty: To say that it's a loose retelling is to put it mildly! I love fairytales, but Cinderella was never a favourite of mine, and wrote the book as a way of explaining to myself how any real girl with a real heart and mind could possibly act the way Cinderella does. To be honest, if the book weren't being marketed as Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha, I doubt anyone would realise it was a retelling.

    Emma: Thank you! I actually won the Sasakawa Prize before the book was finished, believe it or not. I'm still not over what an honour it was!

  5. Agree with every word *Loved* it muchly!

  6. Ok, this is a must have. Marvelous review...thanks Viv :D

  7. I LOVED Memoirs of a Geisha, so I'm adding this to my wish list.

  8. This sounds fab, been hearing so many good things and I'm looking forward to reading my copy :)

  9. Great review :D I really like the sound of it and I loved Mem of a Geisha so yes

  10. Awesome review Viv! This is such an amazing book and I totally agree with every point you made! The quotes you picked are sooo beautiful!

  11. Zoe - I told you I loved the book!

    Petty Witter - I think Zoe answered your query.

    Emma - thank you for your lovely comment.

    Vicki - yay! We think alike.

    Animewookie - a must read!

    Bermudaonion - I hope you love it.

    Jessica - I hope you love it as much as I did. It really is a beautiful book.

    Blodeuedd - it would suit your love of fantasy.

    Raimy-rawr - Thank you. It really is amazing.

  12. I haven't read Memoirs of a Geisha but have often picked it up and put it back - maybe I should give it a go. I have to say that I love fairy stories retold so that selling point doesn't deter me and combined with your review - methinks this one is another going in my little book to look out for :)

  13. What an amazing review, I need to get this book. x

  14. Great review Viv, I hope mine compares well ;) This book is a beautiful read and I really hope people take our recommendation and go get it. LOVED the book.


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