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.


  1. I am sure I've heard of this but I knew little about it until now. It sounds like quite a disappointing read for the most part, which is a shame, because parts of it sound promising!

    If I give it a go, I'll be sure to stick with it even through the beginning ;)

  2. Oh, yes, our ratings and opinions are pretty much the same. I was quite disappointed by some aspects of this and I do agree that it's only very loosely tied to Cinderella. I did like Suzume and I adored the setting, but in some ways, this book fell short.
    I am hopefull for her new book, I can't remember the name right this second. It sounds very intereting and besides, the woman can write.
    Great review, Keertana!

  3. What a shame, I hate when something has good and bad points and leaves me conflicted on the rating and review. I find myself lamenting "...but it had such potential!".
    I think you've done a great job of highlighting the good and the not so good. Great review, Keertana.

  4. On first glance this one sounds great, and it is a plus that you enjoyed this overall. It helps knowing that it is only loosely based on Cinderella. Her power sounds particularly fascinating too. Plus I am a sucker for these romances. But it is a bummer that it took so long to get going (the word 'chore' certainly is frightening) and the villains are anticlimactic. Still I will add this one to my TBR. Great review.

  5. I'm not a huge fan of going into a book, with mixed expectations it somewhat surprises you though it disheartens you at the same time! And I can see the conflict in your rating, its hard and I would feel exactly the same! I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds like a good read, maybe not a great one! I really love how you reach out to the more less well-known books to me Keertana. It really enlightens me on what else is out there! Lovely Review! :)

  6. I haven't heard of this one before Keertana! I'm glad that after a slow and tedious beginning you got sucked in, I'm usually good to go with a slow start as long as I know things will pick up. And a insta-love that works? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!! Guess I'll have to read and find out for myself:):)

  7. I'm not sure I have the patience at the moment for a hard to get into novel and one with an anti-climax. However, I am so glad that you managed to enjoy this one by the end.

    I think I have one of Zoe Marriott's other books on my wishlist. I think it's her. So I'm glad you liked her.

    Great review, dearest! :)

  8. While I only saw a few of your updates on Goodreads, Keertana, it definitely seems like you have a ton of conflicting emotions about this one! However, I'm glad you ended up enjoying it. I think that if I don't really go in with the misconception of this story really being a Cinderella retelling, then I'll be able to really enjoy this one for what it is. I'm already excited to read this one, and especially excited to read about this romance. ;)

    Lovely review, Keertana! <3

  9. I have this on my wishlist but I have zero patience with books these days so I think I may take it it off. I'm rethinking whether this is for me. If I give it a shot I will probably get it from the library.

  10. I hadn't heard of this book until I saw your review. It's great to hear that the romance and story is well crafted. But I'm not usually a fan of anticlimactic villains (who is?). I think I'll put this book on my list to see if I enjoy it. Great review, Keertana!

  11. I totally understand your assessment of this book. I think I enjoyed it more than you, but I also think that I went in with fewer expectations for something badass. I feel like it is, indeed, a very quiet and contemplative novel with much harder undertones, which was a very unconventional feel. I found the world beautiful though, and yes, utterly fell for the romance as well. I really need to read more of her work! I have The Swan Kingdom, but haven't picked it up yet.

  12. Hah I adore your review of this book Keertana, I haven't read the blurb for this book, but just by looking at the cover you wouldn't think it was based around a Cinderella retelling but more like a shadow weaving ninja assassin. I'm glad that you were able to enjoy it for the most part, despite some issues. I think I've seen this book in my library, so I might just give it a go one day, your review has definitely piqued my curiosity! Lovely review hun! :)

  13. I think what did this for me was the writing - the exquisite writing. It was utterly brilliant how her words shaped and reshaped worlds, feelings, emotions. Ahhh. So pretty. I do think that the ending was anticlimatic - same way I thought Bardugo's Darkling became utterly unused and wasted when he had been such a layered character before. Ah well. I think there's going to be a sequel to this!

  14. I keep going back and forth on this one. The fairytale retellings I've read have been a bit hit and miss for me, and I find it has to be quite a unique approach for me to really enjoy it. I have heard quite good things about this though.. so perhaps I'll put it back on my TBR. Great review!

  15. I own this book and have been meaning to read it for some time now. I heard about it being a Cinderella retelling, but I never had the impression it really had to do with revenge - and now, after reading your review, I'll be able to go into this book without expecting that sort of element to occur in the plot, which is nice. Or apparently a very Cinderella-influenced plot. No one likes false expectations. :) I just am so interested in the idea of her being a shadow-weaver! And the fact that it's non-Western. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Keertana!


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