Saturday, May 28, 2011
Shadows on the Moon review
Today I am posting a rather overdue review of a lovely book, Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott.
Zoe and I are Twitter friends, and some months back, she proposed a swap. She'd send me a Shadows on the Moon ARC if I'd send her a Between the Sea and Sky ARC when I got them. Despite the expensive postage to England, it's still a sweet deal because we get to read one another's books early.
And this is a LOVELY book, kind of a Japanese-flavored Cinderella. Let me tell you some of the many things I loved about it!
--The prose. It's simple yet lyrical, the perfect fairy tale pitch, especially for a Japanese fairy tale. The prose kind of FELT like Japan, if that makes sense.
--Suzume. She's a strong heroine, tough but still feminine. She goes through a LOT and I really felt for her. Just when I thought she was in a slightly better position, the rug gets pulled out from under her again. One thing I thought was fascinating is that she using cutting to cope with all she's going through in the book. This isn't played up TOO much but I can't recall ever seeing this addressed in a historical fantasy. Or actually any historical OR fantasy. It's nice to see heroines with "issues" branching out of issue books, that's for sure.
--The world. It's not QUITE the Japan we know, more of a fairy tale Japan and a fairy tale court, and it is lovely. Dark-skinned foreigners come from another land as guests of the royal court, and although we never see this land, the culture and people feel well-realized too. The love interest is a part of the foreign party, which brings me to:
--Otieno. He could have had even more screen time in my opinion, but still, it was enough, and he made a compelling impression when he did show up. He came across as strong yet gentle and I feel like he had a real sense of presence. One of my pet peeves in a book is multiple description of hot abs or pouty lips as stand-in for character in a love interest (especially my personal boy preference is skinny rock stars...hot abs and pouty lips won't get me, although I admit to being kind of a sucker for nicely described hands for some reason). There is none of this here. Yes, you'll see some physical attraction to Otieno but it's more than that.
Also, bonus points for dance, music, riches to rags to riches again which I always enjoy, and a transgender character.
If I have one quibble it's that the pacing does drag in a few spots, particularly around the end when the heroine is making certain choices for revenge and honor and you KNOW she's going to end up going a different route in the end. Although I think this made sense for her character I'll admit to getting a little impatient with her at that point. For god's sake, woman, OTIENO.
This is a wonderful read and I really think it will appeal to Magic Under Glass fans as it shares some themes. It releases in the UK in July (and you can always get UK books via The Book Depository although don't wait as I notice they tend to run out of them sometimes, grr) or, I believe, a little later in the US.