I found this book in a meme at A Backwards Story. Thanks Bonnie!
First Published: July 7, 2011
"On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before."
Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.
Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.
Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?
Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.
And nothing will stop her. Not even love.
I literally jumped at this book because of the Japanese style aspect it had, it made it easy for me to get into it. I was enwraped by the mood and atmosphere in a split second, just like it had been with the Tales of the Otori Series by Lian Hearn. That said, it had the 'typical Japanese plot' with the father being killed for trachery and then everything falls apart, the proud child trying to gain back the honor of the family name. It's kinda cliché but I really like it, I could read this kind of thing with this setting in all sorts of variations. Thus, this book just hit the nail on the head ^.^, especially since it had been a while that I read something like it.
The fantasy aspect was nice, too. A sweet, not too far fetched and complicated idea of magic that fits well into the Japanese atmosphere. The romance is simple and sweet, giving it great depth and a certain innocent purity. The male lead character brings in a touch of strangeness and .. otherness to the atmosphere, a strength and sharp clearity which is a beautiful contrast to the inner turmoil of the female lead. You can't help but to want them together no matter what it takes.
Only thing that does not own this book its five Shuhus is the writing style. It was a bit too plain, too bystanding. Although that would normally underline this whole Japanese style, that is exactly the point that it doesn't: the style has to bring in all the emotion that is usually kept so tight under the lit, which it just does not to the point of my satisfaction.
Style: 3/5 -- Plot: 5/5 -- Characters: 4.5/5 -- Suspense: 4/5 -- Humor: 4/5 -- Fantasy: 3/5