Has it become so ingrained in me that whenever I see any book with an Asian setting I automatically conjure up images of fantastic sword-fighting? I’d like to think after three years and two Master’s degrees, I more than anyone else am quite aware that associating martial arts with stories set in Asia is a misnomer gone way past its expiration date. In the past two weeks I’ve read two books set in a Japan-esque landscape that have brought my awareness front and center.
Set in the fictional Moonlit Lands and filled with magic, mysticism, and intrigue, Shadows on the Moon is a first person account of fourteen-year-old Suzume’s heartbreak and her quest to right old wrongs.
Against the backdrop of cultural differences, author Zoë Marriott weaves a powerful tale of love, betrayal, honor, death, and revenge, often gripping the reader and exposing the sometimes dire cause and effect of human behavior. Yet underneath it all, like the quiet beauty of a mysterious haiku, there is a sparseness in the writing style that suggests there’s more behind all that is left unsaid.
Marriott’s vivid details, clear language interspersed with a few Japanese words, and free flowing prose allow the narrator to make her own discoveries, as she learns how to acclimate herself with the ever-changing personas she’s forced to adapt.
As she maneuvers her way in and out of trouble using her innate art of shadow weaving, Suzume wrestles to control her emotions that are usually front and center threatening to unravel the flimsy masks she’s yet to learn how to control. Standing up to the tyrant at last, laying her heart and everything else on the line and seizing her moment of happiness she has so long been denied, was a thrilling moment indeed. Suzume the spitfire is no Cinderella.