Friday, July 24, 2015

Shadows on the Moon

Zoe Marriott's Shadows on the Moon isn't just Cinderella set in Japan, but Cinderella as you've never seen her before. I could say the same thing about Malinda Lo's Ash, and actually, they end in a similar fashion (though Ash's ending is more subversive). It's not the ending, though, that sets Marriott's retelling apart; it's Cinderella's agency.

This Cinderella saw her father and her cousin murdered in front of her. This Cinderella doesn't have a wicked stepmother and a neglectful father, but a mother and a stepfather who are both viciously abusive in very different ways. This Cinderella cuts herself as a means of relieving her emotional pain. This Cinderella doesn't need a fairy godmother because she has magic of her own. This Cinderella takes on more different identities than just "dutiful daughter" and "humiliated servant". Most importantly, this one doesn't attend the ball to win the prince's heart because she needs to be rescued from her family. Suzume/Rinn/Yue has already rescued herself, and become one of the most sought-after courtesans in the city. Her motivations for attending - and enacting a careful plan to seduce the prince - are much darker.

And did I mention the trans woman who becomes like family to Suzume, and is one of the most important secondary characters - and who has an identity beyond just being trans? Or the interracial romance that didn't include a white person? This book had fantastic diversity.

So it's going on my list as a reasonably good fairy-tale retelling (and in the end, I did like it quite a lot more than Ash).

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