Book: Shadows On The Moon, Zoe Marriott
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Release Date: July 7th, 2011
Rating: 4 stars
In the original Cinderella fairytale, she is described as a girl forced to work as a servant for her evil stepmother and stepsisters while she dreams that her prince charming will eventually find her and whisk her away to her happily ever after. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if Cinderella is forced out of her home by an evil stepfather when he attempts to kill her? What if Cinderella is a girl that has a gift of weaving the shadows around her to change her expressions and hide herself from her enemies? What if, instead of a happily ever after with a prince, she really wants revenge against the man who wronged her?
That is what this story is about. We start with Suzume: a seemingly regular fourteen-year-old girl with a loving father, a warm home and a carefree life. But then, in the blink of an eye, Suzume’s life is turned upside down and inside out. Her father is killed for being a traitor right in front of Suzume’s eyes. Her emotionally-detached mother marries a man who only cares about wealth and his title, and Suzume feels invisible in her home and miserable in herself. Her mother refuses to let her speak about her father as she’s trying to forget the past; however, this means that Suzume is unable to grieve properly and therefore unable to move on from such a tragedy. She finds the only comfort from her unspeakable sorrow is to distract herself from her mental pain by inflicting physical plain on herself: i.e. cutting. I found this so hard to read, and I felt horrible for this poor girl whose once carefree life is so tragically shattered. Once the true nature of her stepfather is discovered, Suzume has to hide and change identities to save her life. With the help of a kindly old man named Youta, Suzume becomes Rin.
Rin is a simple drudge girl who speaks very little and just does her kitchen duties. However, she is truly depressed at this stage and relies on the pain she inflicts on herself from working in a kitchen (such as burns and scrapes) to help her survive each day. On the side, Youta teaches her about her secret gift: shadow weaving. Rin is able to twist the shadows around her to create illusions for whoever surrounds her, as well as make her invisible by blending into the shadows. Rin uses this ability to hide the cuts on her arms and the sorrow on her face by creating an illusion of a happy girl. For “people trust their eyes above all else – but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe that should see, not what is really there.”
It is while she is Rin that our heroine meets her “prince” of sorts – a foreigner named Otieno. They have a connection that binds them together immediately – they can both shadow weave. However, while Rin attempts to push him away due to her secrets, this only draws Otieno closer, and it was so cute to read. Otieno brought down Rin’s barriers in a way no one else ever could, and made her feel as if she deserves happiness in her life. However, Rin still had a lot of anger in her heart toward her stepfather, as well as her mother for not trying to find her when she disappeared, and so she does something unspeakable – something so bad even Youta believes her only chance for survival is to run away and never return.
And this is where Rin becomes Yue. This name is given to her by another shadow weaver, Akira. While Yue is loved by Akira, and taken care of in her home, she is still desperately unhappy. She feels the only way she can be free of her pain and anger is by inflicting revenge on the one man who caused such sorrow in her life: her stepfather. So Akira helps Yue execute a plan that will finish her stepfather once and for all. And no, I will not spoil any more by explaining exactly what that plan is! However, it was planned very well with a great twist at the end.
Shadows on the Moon is not your average Cinderella re-telling. There is no beautiful gown that will disappear at midnight or a pumpkin that turns into a carriage. It’s a fantastically executed tale about one girl’s trials and turmoil and how she was able to overcome them all and come out fighting in the end, stronger than ever. It’s not a sweet little tale, and it will have you bawling on more than one occasion. You will be begging for our heroine’s happy ending because she deserves it so much.
I would totally recommend this novel to any fans on fairytales and fantasy, but I would be prepared. It’s a hard and gruelling tale to read.