By: Zoe Marriott
Read by: Amy Rubinate
Suzume is 14 years old when the soldiers come and murder her father and cousin. She and her mother flee their home and are taken in by her father's best friend, Terayama. Suzume, suffering greatly from witnessing the murder of those she loves, is forced to keep silent about her haunting memory and forget that it ever happened. Suzume takes on a new name, and uses the memory of her cousin to make a mask of tranquility on her face. As she battles with her anger, fear, and deep loss, Suzume soon realizes that she has tucked her real self so far away that she no longer remembers who she is.
Audio Review: This audio was magnificent. It is apparent that Amy Rubinate spent a great deal of time learning the different words and intonations for all the vocabulary that was in this book. She also channeled Suzume's (and Otieno's) spirit very well. I love an audio book that makes me want to sit in my car a little longer. This book is definitely going on my list of favorites and most recommended for audio. This is one that I would recommend the audio because of the experience. There were several times that I was moved to tears. It was because of the glorious writing as much as the beautiful narration.
Review: This book will definitely be the most under-rated in 2012. Perhaps because it was originally published in the UK, it hasn't received as much buzz in the US. And that is just a crying shame. And you can bet that I'll be telling every one within shouting distance about this one.
Where to begin? The setting is vivid, rich, and I can smell the cherry blossoms right off the page. The world borrows heavily from Japanese culture, and I just couldn't get enough. There were beautiful descriptions of the clothing, jewelry, and even the furniture and architecture. It's not often I read a book that the setting is also an important character!
The impact of watching her father and beloved cousin's murders sits deep within Suzume. Her pain and anguish are so real that even though she makes some very bad decisions, I couldn't help but love Suzume. Her need for love and tenderness is so real, that I could not abandon her. I triumphed with her when she was saved by Youta, and as things went from bad to worse, I was sad for her. Another amazing thing that Marriott was able to do with this book was make self-harming (cutting) something that I could understand. Those are actions that I have zero experience with and find it hard to connect with characters that engage in them. Not the case with Suzume.
And, possibly my favorite part is the romance with Otieno. It's part love at first sight, and part slow-burn. They hit it off pretty well at first, but Marriott does a great job at separating them early on in their relationship so that it can develop a little without a need for constant contact. Otieno has everything that Suzume does not. Confidence, a family that cares for him, and safety. Suzume pushes very hard against Otieno, for her own reasons. Otieno, the persistent fellow that he is, realizes that she is in a lot of pain and that she really does need the reassurance that he's going to stick around. I think this is why sometimes he acts a little possessive or harsh with her. And truthfully? She can take it. She's a tough cookie.
I mentioned the self-harming aspect. There is also some sexual content. I thought it was pretty tastefully handled, but this is a novel that is probably suitable for older teens. It has an overall darker tone that fits the subject matter. I enjoyed it, but understand that it's very different from most fairy tale retellings.
I can't say enough about Shadows on the Moon. It's earned a spot on my most beloved shelf and will probably be one that I read over and over again. It appears to be a stand-alone novel, and has one of the best endings I've read in a long time. Read this one, I promise you won't be sorry.