Monday, March 4, 2013
Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Title: Shadows on the Moon
Author: Zoe Marriott
Rating: 3.5 Stars
If you've been following my status updates for this book, you can probably understand why I am so conflicted over my rating. On one hand, Shadows on the Moon is an incredible story. Although it is marketed as an Asian re-telling of Cinderella where our princess must avenge the death of her beloved father, it is less of an Edmund Dantes-eque revenge story and more of a contemplative tale of self-growth.
If you read the synopsis of this story, it easily leads you to believe that Marriott's tale follows the general outline of a well-known fairy tale. Contrary to popular belief, however, very little of this actual story is centered around any type of Cinderella-type story. It has its main players, but everything else is left up to the imagination of the author.
Now, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, the narration never feels forced or stifled by the fairy tale it is based on, much like Marissa Meyer's Cinder did for me. Yet, at the same time, I found that this story lacked plot for much of its length. For a little over half of the story, the true emerging plot was hard to find. We journey with Suzume as she watches her father killed before her eyes, as she discovers her powers as a shadow-weaver or one who can weave illusions, as she cuts herself, dealing with her grief the only way she knows how, as she falls in love with a handsome foreigner, as she commits acts of indescribable cruelty and runs away from her life. Only then is she presented with an opportunity for revenge and she cultivates herself to become Yue, the most beautiful woman, so she can win the favor of the prince and, in turn, seek her vengeance.
Nevertheless, I cannot disregard the fact that the beginning of this story is slow and hard to get into. It is a chore to pick it up, especially without any goal seemingly in sight. Once it really gets going, though, it utterly sucks you in. Despite the near insta-love of the romance in this novel, I utterly fell for it. It is sweet, caring, and perfect without unnecessary misunderstandings or drama. Suzume's growth throughout the novel, her careful exploration of her grief, and the detail to aspects of the society in this fantasy world is all masterfully created. Each of the secondary characters serve a larger role and have their own depth and truly, I loved this story.
BUT, I must warn readers not to jump on board with the revenge scheme too much. In the end, it is all rather anticlimactic, the villains I once thought to be complex, gray figures revealed to be nothing more than stereotypical black-and-white characters to end the story quickly. Suzume easily wraps up what should have been a long ordeal and all in all, the resolution to the revenge that fueled Suzume's life for so long was massively disappointing.
I did enjoy it immensely, but I can't say if I really recommend it for a lot of other readers. You need to be patient and possibly not a fan of The Count of Monte Cristo. Or, you know, if you are, just don't expect epic revenge adventures from Asian girls that are on the sword-fighting, cunning level of what Alexandre Dumas can write. I honestly went into this book expected Suzume to turn into a shadow-weaving ninja assassin, but sadly, this doesn't happen. Shadows on the Moon is very much unexpected and while this isn't a bad thing, it wasn't always good either.