Book Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott is a young adult novel. This novel follows Suzume as she losses everything in one horrible day, only to discover that things can get worse. The man that saved her life on the first horrible day, teaches her to harness the magical art of shadow weaving. She reinvents herself in order to survive and with the desire to reap vengeance on the man that killed her father and ultimately destroyed her family. Not even the support of a mentor, or the love of another shadow weaver, is enough to stop her quest for justice. But can those that care for her keep her from destroying herself?

Shadows on the Moon
might have had some inspiration from Japanese culture, but Marriott makes it clear that her story is not based on any actual legends or history.There are some Cinderella elements, but there are so many unexpected and tragic twists that it feels far from familiar. Suzume is a heart breaking character, practically abandoned by one parent and having seen the other killed. She feels no self-worth and internalizes her guilt, with some dangerous and heart wrenching results. Suzume feels very authentic in her pain and her self destructive path. However, even with so much pain, she seeks no champion and stands on her own feet accepting aid only when necessary. Youta and Akira are her mentors in shadow weaving, and are both unexpected in many ways but often just what Suzume needs in order to survive another day. Her love interest, Otieno, is very different from Suzume and makes a brilliant contrast with his innocence and optimism stunning against her pain and self-loathing. The culture and physical difference between them further enhances this. I do not want to go into more detail, because I would hate to ruin the twists and turns within the story.

I highly recommend Shadows of the Moon to readers that like intense stories with elements of fantasy or magic. The story is beautifully written and the emotional journey Suzume takes in search of justice is full of characters and situations that might make you put the book down for a few minutes in order to fully process. I do not recommend this for the faint of heart however, if tragedy and trauma in your books leads you down a dark path of your own you might want to skip it and avoid that. I do recommend that readers prone to crying with emotional stories keep some tissues handy. This is a moving and engrossing read, but not one that could be labeled as light or fun.
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