So, many moons ago, the author Zoe Marriott had a contest on her blog which involved people all commenting and keeping up with their writing goals for each month and I talked about keeping up with my blog entries and when I fell behind (I think this was last spring so I was dealing with final projects at the same time, yippee). She then collected everyone who had commented on all the posts, put them into a drawing, and someone I won and recieved a mystery package which turned out to have a few different things in it including an audio book copy of one of her books, Shadows on the Moon. I'll confess, I was okay with audio books when I was on long car rides in elementary school but even back then they weren't my favorite method of getting to know a story since I could already read faster than they could narrate and just wasn't fond of how the voice work was handled. So I put off listening to this one for a long time, even though I was interested in the story, until December when I made myself get into the habit of listening to it working on various projects and thankfully once I got in the groove of putting it on and just letting it play I was able to get into the story and enjoy it regardless of my personal preference for these things.
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott, performed by Amy Rubinate
Summary: Suzume lives a happy life with her family when the Moon Prince's men show up one day to slaughter her entire household on the charge of being a traitor and only she and a cinderman manage to escape. Ever since then she has to hide not only her feelings but what she really is, in the attack she discovered that she's a shadow-weaver (which is exactly what it sounds like) and, while it's certainly not illegal is hardly something she wants to tell the people around her and it becomes another tool she uses to hide behind. But living with that many lies takes a tole on a person and soon she begins to lose sight of everything except her goal, revenge.
The Good: I completely did not expect the story to get as dark as it did, I haven't had to do this before but people who are trigged by acts of self-mutilation should probably stay away here. It's not glorified or idealized but rather those are some rather, raw scenes, yet I liked how Suzume struggled with these problems since I can't remember the last time I came across someone with troubles like these in a fantasy book and I'm all for crossing of the genres in literature. As for the rest of the book, I have read some other really creative retellings of Cinderella so it's hard for me to say which one I thought was the most creative but this one is pretty high on the list. It's a very liberal interpretation/retelling and only keeps some of the barest themes but there's still enough to make it clear that this is a retelling. The setting, based on feudal Japan, seemed fairly realistic although honestly what I liked the most was how there were characters from that world's version of Africa present since again that was something I completely didn't expect*.
The Bad: The story wraps up a little too rapidly with an almost deus ex machina for a villain (which was vaguely hinted at earlier on but I still wish had had an actual explanation) and just super fast pacing for the last five chapters or so, especially in comparison to the other chapters. It made the ending feel a bit, well, messy and I wished for a little more conclusion on some of the characters, one or two seemed completely forgotten in the very end, so as long as this book was I wish it had gone on a tad bit longer just so it was a little smoother.
The Audio: Personally I'm not that fond of audio books that have just one person doing all the voices (although come to think of it I don't think I've ever heard a full cast audio book) but Rubinate keeps all the important character's voices distinct and never sounds tired or bored which I was impressed by since since book clocks in at nearly fourteen and a half hours (although since it is her job I guess I should expect such professionalism, although I still appreciate it). After a while I was able to get into the voices and such so I can say that yes this was a good audio book, it just didn't really change my preferences for print over audio books.
So I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars and plan on buying a print edition for myself (especially since that I've already donated the CD to the local library, since I couldn't get it to work on my old boombox I had just put it into itunes so I could listen to it on my ipod) and now I'm even more curious about her other works, to the library! For those interested, you can read the first chapter for free (and legally!) right over here, don't know if Audible has a preview of the audio book online however.
*although, looking over Goodreads I discovered that some of Marriott's other books seem to be set in an African-inspired fantasy setting, I wonder if there is crossover between the two....