Shadows on the Moon- Zoë Marriott.

Synopsis 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.

“People trust their eyes above all else- but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see; not what is really there.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I hope I never become too cynical for fairy tales. Gorgeous.

High Points.
Eastern influences. Love. Revenge. Grief. Shadow-weaving. Breath taking prose. Fairy tales. Loyalty. Haikus (More books should have haikus). Training montages. Rags to riches. Kimonos. Magic. Doesn’t shy away from the darkness. Heart-breaking. Heart-warming. Evil villains. Princes. Princesses. Dances. Topless guys shooting arrows….*ahem* I’m sorry, what was the question?

Low Points.
OK, even though I really loved this book, I have do have two minor quibbles.
Firstly, I often got the impression that Suzume was put in danger/mild-peril/sticky situations just so the dashing hero could save her and, even though it was sweet and never too much, I would have liked to see Suzume stand up for herself and show a bit of fire that I knew was in there somewhere. It is obvious that Suzume is one fierce lass and I had the utmost faith that she would have been able to kill/slaughter/give a swift kick in the cajones to any guy who was being a bit too frisky with his hands.
And to prove my second point, I am going to need a lovely assistant.
Come on down, Jon.

On your left you will see the very dashing, sexy hunk of man that is Jon Hamm.
Yes.
OK, stay with me, guys.
FOCUS.
OK, on your right you will see the bearded/slightly constipated-looking/bad haired Jon Hamm. No, he doesn’t look as sexy as the first one. But he’s still Jon Hamm….therefore still sexy. It’s science.
This is what I like to call the Clark Kent effect.
Just because you alter one feature (hair/beard/glasses/smudge dirt on your face)… people will still recognise you.
When I go out in my contact lenses my friends don’t walk past me being like ‘GOSH DARN IT JO, WHERE ARE YOU? BUT HEY, WHO’S THE BRUNETTE STARING AT ME IN COMPLETE CONFUSION WEARING JO’S CLOTHES?’
I found it hard to believe that Suzume could get away with not being recognised in some scenes. Unless, I’ve completely missed the whole point and she used shadow weaving to alter her features.
Actually, that probably was what happened.
……

*cough*
Let’s just leave Jon Hamm’s picture up there, shall we? In the name of science.

Heroine.
You guys know I love a heroine with personality and Suzume, in all her identities, was brimming with it. Marriott perfectly created a character that was not only likeable and smart but also completely full of sass, even if she often keeps it to herself. Which is why I would like to have seen her step out of the damsel in distress mode just a little.
There was a lot of emotion with Suzume and her issues were never looked over and Ms Marriott explored them with great understanding, subtlety and effectiveness.
I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling.

Love Interest.
My my, Otieno. I love the strong and silent type… who is also confident, quite loud and not afraid to laugh loudly in social situations and has a good relationship with his Dad. Um, yeah. But he was sometimes silent….and I imagine he’d be strong after all the archery and shadow-weaving.
Anyway. Otieno was very dashing and had a relentless but delightfully swoon-worthy determination to win the heart of his beloved which never ventured into the ‘Oh come on that would never happen’ territory.
And, for you Otieno, I could even ignore the long hair…and by ignore I mean sneak into your room at night with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Best Friend Fairy Godmotherfather.
I wish Youta had been in it more. I love cute old men who are not only lovely, but wise.

Baddie.
I won’t say much about this… but yeah they weren’t pleasant and I’m pretty sure that they both get their comeuppance.

Theme Tune.

I was struggling to find a song for this book because I kind of wanted to incorporate the gorgeous words with the sense of the mystical. And it needed to be epic.
So, naturally, I went to Florence because if, in doubt in any situation, always turn to Flolita. And this song fits perfectly with this book because it talks about moons and shadows because it’s beautiful and British.
(Also.. fun fact: I am wearing that slashed jumpsuit right now. There’s an image for you.)

Angst Level.
8/10. Holy moly, this book took me by surprise. The first few chapters are so tragic and brutal and I wasn’t expecting it at all. But they are perfectly depicted, relying on impeccable story telling rather than unnecessary shock-value, and these set the tone for the book and the events and emotions that Suzume has to endure.
Again, I don’t want to go into the details but I will say this: the more I think about this book, the more I love how raw it is. I’m so sick of authors sugar-coating their fiction so I have a lot of respect for Ms Marriot for not shying away from emotions and situations that others may be afraid to, and doing so in an honest and sympathetic way.

Recommended For.
People who like beautifully written books. People who like magic (seriously, where do I sign up to become a shadow-weaver?). People who like fairy tales. People who believe revenge is a dish best served cold.. People who think it takes a real men to wear gold sparkly things in their luscious locks. People who wish there were more situations where it was OK to wear a Kimono every day. People who find Jon Hamm attractive no matter what facial fuzz he is sporting.

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