Shadows on the Moon is the life story of Suzume, a girl who starts out as the daughter of a lowly poet, becomes the stepdaughter of a wealthy noble, escapes as a lowly drudge working the kitchens, and turns into a beautiful courtesan. She’s put on so many different masks that Suzume feels she has lost herself along the way, but it’s of no importance compared to her plot for revenge. When true love comes her way, Suzume will be faced with the hardest decision of her life, a choice between avenging her family or everlasting happiness. Shadows on the Moon will take you along the Moonlit Lands, a place filled with magic, obstacles unending, and love of the once in a life time kind.‘Love comes like storm cloudsFleeing from the wind, and castsShadows on the moon,’ Suzume’s character really surprised me. At first I couldn’t figure her out, she seemed to be really passive about the whole thing with her mother, who didn’t want to even mention her father and what had happened during the attack. She would cut herself to be free of the pain, which I saw as cowardice. But then when Suzume learns the truth, she explodes and runs away and becomes a drudge. I thought that was really brave, taking her life in her own hands. Suzume then learns about her shadow weaving powers, and how she’d been using it all her life without knowing. After that the story moves forward quickly. As Suzume changes names, I could see how she re-invented herself time and time again adapting to the situations, and it just made me like her more. She goes from being Suzume (“little sparrow”) to Rin (“cold”) to Yue (“Moon”). The only thing that seems to be a constant in her life is Otieno. He is a foreigner who Suzume met on a ship, when he saved her from being thrown overboard. He has dark skin with iridescent blue tattoos that cover his back, and left arm. He’s a master archer, has a falcon, and has long hair in neat cornrows. If these descriptions don’t make you swoon, then a couple of his lines will surely will (see favorite quotes below). No matter how hard Suzume is falling for him, she still torn between duty to avenge her family and duty to her own heart. Set in a fantasy Japanese/Chinesse-like world, Shadows on the Moon is rich in detail and prose, as Zoe Mariott peppers it with foreign terms that make the character and the land come alive. Though the story takes its time setting up the world and plot, the slow pace is all worth it in the end. The themes of grief, depression, and love are wonderfully dealt with. And I got so into the story with its many twists and turns that it’s only now that I realize it’s a darker re-telling of the Cinderella tale!