Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

This is an awesome read, and I hope more get to it because I think it's highly worth finalist consideration! The book is spun as a retelling of Cinderella set in an alternate feudal Japan, but it's much more than another fairy-tale spin-off. The Cinderella elements are very subtle (but very satisfying), and it is a very dark story as it focuses on its main character Suzume's depression, guilt, and desire for vengeance when her father and cousin are killed, and her mother too-quickly marries a family friend. The darkness of the story is balanced with a love-story, strong friendships, and beautiful descriptions of the magic and environment. Additionally, rather than the coveted "marry the prince and live happily every after," this version presents the "dream" of becoming the Moon Prince's Shadow Bride - which is really a glorified courtesan - who, once her services are done, is never to marry or bear children. Issues such as cutting and gender identity are dealt with truthfully and seamlessly in the fantasy world, and the central love story is between Suzume and an African man (which shouldn't be a big deal these days, but still seems to be a rare thing in books). And Suzume, having the gift of "shadow-weaving," is a very powerful, and very complex Cinderella character. Despite its darkness and a fair amount of violence, it might be hard to steer a boy reader to it, though fans of Japanese culture would probably revel in it regardless of gender. I'd recommend it for the final list consideration. - Liz G, Merrimack Public Library

I can only agree with Liz. There is not much I can add. This is a beautifully written book and does not talk down to or gloss over teen issues. It would be a hard sell to boys though. Sylvie – Nesmith Library