Actual rating: 2.5I so badly wanted to love this book, I really did. It seemed right up my alley, and in a lot of ways, it was.I think, unfortunately, my enjoyment of this novel was somewhat ruined by the author's note in the beginning, where she says:"I never liked [Cinderella]. She seemed like a wimp to me and I hated that she sat around and waited for someone to rescue her. [...] What if she wasn't a wimp? What if she was strong and brave and out for revenge all along?"I fail to see how enduring years of abuse by people who are meant to love you makes you a wimp. I fail to see how using the few resources a woman would have in order to get away from said family is being a wimp. Cinderella didn't just sit around because she was lazy and waiting for someone to rescue her; she was sitting around because she was back in her abusive family's household and could do nothing else. In my mind, going out to the ball even when her stepmother may have found her already made her brave. It takes courage to go against the people who have abused you for years, to go out and find some small bit of happiness for a night or two, and I didn't appreciate the belittling of that. With that discouraging note, I had my doubts about this novel. While I read, I tried to separate the author's note from the actual novel, but I do think, unfortunately, it ruined my enjoyment by a lot.Technically, Shadows on the Moon is a very good retelling of Cinderella. The changes made to the story are inspired and make sense, especially the use of the three dresses Cinderella wears for the ball. I enjoyed the inclusion of an interracial romance (even when I had issues with the romantic interest, which I will get into later) and a later genderqueer character. Race was handled well in the novel and the genderqueer character treated respectfully, and the issue of self-harm was handled well too. But a big part of why I didn't like this novel, besides the author's note, was Suzume herself. I honestly couldn't root for her as a protagonist at all. She was judgmental, self-absorbed, and looked down on people for not doing things how she herself would have done them. She is brave, true, and there were moments I enjoyed her, but otherwise she grated on me.Otieno, likewise, was not a character I grew to like. I never bought the romance between him and Suzume, and more than that, he was bordering on abusive a lot of the time. He would order her around and at one point said that if she didn't come with him, he would have tied her up and dragged her out by her hair back to his homeland. I don't care if it was meant in a joking manner, it wasn't funny and given how often he ordered her around and ignored her wishes and agency for what he wanted her to do, I don't think it was meant to be a joke in the first place. I liked the side characters far more than I liked the main characters. Akira was my favourite and after a certain point I read the novel more for her than I did Suzume. I found myself wondering, about halfway into the novel, why I was still reading when I didn't care for the main cast and certainly didn't like Suzume herself. I realized it was because, technically, the writing in Shadows on the Moon is very, very beautiful. It's smooth, it flows well, there's an effortless feel to it that makes it very easy to read and enjoy. I was entranced by the writing, not the characters themselves. The pacing did seem a bit rushed near the end, but otherwise it was wonderful.Overall, I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I had wanted to. The things it does right are wonderful, but there were far too many other annoyances that kept me from truly loving Shadows on the Moon, and that's a shame. It's partly my fault for allowing the author's note to cloud my judgment, though I think even without it I wouldn't have been as fond of the novel as I hoped I would be.