Book Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Shadows on the Moon
Zoe Marriott

Blurb from Goodreads
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 have mixed feelings about this book. I liked it since it is hard for me to find a YA book that is influenced by Asia. As I said, it has merits and I liked Shadows on the Moon enough but I was not satisfied with it. It had hints of an Asian-esque setting particularly Japanese elements but I was not really convinced and elements are not handled quite satisfactorily to make me feel that I am really immersed in such a setting and in such a culture. Not like how the Eon duology was done and how I was completely embraced.

However, I give props to the development of the story although it was quite slow. It did not remind me of a Cinderella like story as some reviews say. I know, I know, the book was somewhat like Cinderella with the heroine fallen from her high status, went through drudgery, danced at a ball and chosen by the prince. But Shadows on the Moon did not remind me of Cinderella at all when I was reading it - it reminded me of another story: Memoirs of a Geisha. How could I not? Suzume or Rin or Yue, or whoever she was, was taken in by a former gijo, a legendary beauty (even is she's an oyama), famous in all the land and favored by the former prince. It was just like how Sayuri was taken in by Mameha and groomed to be a geisha who would be even more of a legend than Mameha had ever been. Only in Yue's case, she turned her back on being the Shadow Bride (after an epiphany and an enormous discovery of herself) and embracing love once and for all. Although, Sayuri had her love in the end Cinderella... well, we were conditioned to believe that the prince was Cinderella's true love (I now see it as ticket out of a life of drudgery although I don't blame her) and we'll never know.


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