"Cinderella" is reimagined as a revenge story set in an alternate feudal Japan.
On the day Suzume turns 14, her family is destroyed. Soldiers arrive to slaughter her father, falsely accused of treason, and all his line. Suzume somehow escapes, and with the aid of Youta, a mysterious "cinderman," manages to evade the soldiers until her mother returns from traveling, along with her father's best friend, Terayama. Terayama takes mother and daughter under his protection by marrying Suzume's mother, assuming the wicked-stepfather role. As Suzume learns more about her parents' involvement with Terayama, she discovers reasons to hate and fear him. Marriott (The Swan Kingdom, 2009, etc.) writes wonderful villains, who fulfill fairy-tale roles while maintaining a balance between despicable and understandable. Suzume's blooming desire for revenge and the need to conceal herself to stay alive are aided by her emerging magical powers as a "shadow weaver," training in the craft of illusion under Youta. Shadow weavers are rare to the point of mythological except to other shadow weavers, who are conveniently drawn to help each other in times of need. The emotionally damaged, self-harming Suzume needs all the help she can get in her constant illusion-driven reinventions aimed at self-preservation and avenging her family. Strong characters and motivations abound in a rich fantasy world.
A dark yet very fresh fairy-tale reinvention. (QR code to digitally access poetry written by characters) (Fantasy. 14 & up)