Book Review: Shadows on the Moon

Posted May 22, 2014 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 12 Comments

Book Review: Shadows on the MoonShadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Published by Walker on April 24, 2012
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form — a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? 

Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life — her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

When Kara wrote her own review for this book, I quickly added this to my wish list afterwards.  Just a neat Lyn fact: I have over 300 books on my Amazon wish list.  Sometimes, when i am bored, I stroll through my wishlist to see if anything strikes me as MUST HAVE NOW. When I was scanning for my next IT book, I stumbled on this one again, and gave it a chance.

One thing I can say for certain is this: This book is sorely underrated.  I was very shocked at the level of NEWNESS in the book, something I haven’t seen in fantasy for a while. There were so many times I thought “Oh, this is how the book will play out,” or “Oh, this is the person for such-and-such spot.” Set in a fantasy-land Japanese-Asian fusion, Shadows on the Moon is a modest and unconventional fantasy story. This book not only centers on a multilayered  female main character, but also explores the struggles of the mind and body as well as external influences.


What I Liked

The fantasy portions of the story steered away from cheesy or outlandish and leaned more on the realistic side.  This isn’t throwing shade on over-the-top magic and fantasy, but for me, subtle magic is just as appreciated as dramatic magic.

I enjoyed the slow build up for the plot.  The book spans over years instead of months, and the pacing helped concrete some of the conflicts in the storyline.

Speaking of conflicts, I enjoyed the bravery of Marriott for writing about self harm and touched on mental illness and self image in her story.  Fantasy books have always used real issues fused with imaginary and magical issues, drawing attention to social issues through a creative outlet.  Marriott combines a sensitive issue into her story, and doesn’t even sugar-coats the topic to lessen the blow.  There is going to be a slight level of discomfort reading this book, but it is for the best interest of the story and the reader.

I like that the story was not a formula, hitting checkpoints and marking off a list of “How to Write Your Fantasy Novel.”

Non-Anglo or European characters! There are even *gasps* different cultural regions set in the book!

The secondary character make this book very special. Not only are social and cultural expectations are shattered, but gender roles and family dynamics are approaches as well.   A few of the secondary players even broke the mold, and didn’t fall into the clique parts that tend to make up more contemporary fictional stories.

What was Meh

The main love interest, while he was awesome, he concerned me at times.  He used the word “force” or hinted at taking away choices from Suzume a few times.  He wasn’t flat-out creepy, but I felt slightly uncomfortable during certain parts.

One of the best parts of the story (after the last portion of the book) seemed rushed while some parts of the beginning seemed to drag along and weigh down the story.


I was excited after reading this story.  I was always amazed, pleasantly shocked, and very happy that I picked this book to read!


12 responses to “Book Review: Shadows on the Moon

  1. YEESSSSSSSSS LYNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! I LOVED reading about the romantic lead’s cultures and his glowing, blue tattoos. I imagine them as similar to those of characters from that disney Atlantic movie I saw as a kid. I was relatively new to YA back when I read it and this was one of the first ones that formed a platform for my standards and critiquing.

    The romance gave me giggles, especially those cat and lion comments(I think) in the woods(I think) after a part(I’m sure) and he HAS BLUE TATTOOS and braids and described so perfectly, but still I wasn’t that blown away by it myself.
    Stuti recently posted…Mischievous Kiss: Love In Tokyo Ep #5My Profile

  2. I loved this book, too! I was very sad when this wasn’t as famous as other works out there because it definitely deserves a lot of spotlight and attention. The love interest didn’t bother me too much and the setting was AWESOME. It gives you that Japanese feel while still feeling fantasy at the same time. Doesn’t get any better than this, nope!
    Faye D’Social Potato (@kawaiileena) recently posted…ARC Review: #Scandal by Sarah OcklerMy Profile

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