Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-GarciaGods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 352
Published by Del Rey on July 23, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore, for readers of The Song of Achilles and Uprooted.
Here we shall begin to tell a story: a tale of a throne lost, of monsters and magic. A tale of gods and of the shadow realm. But this, our story, it begins in our world, in the land of mortals.It begins with a woman. For this story, it is her story. It begins with her.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather's house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather's room. She opens it--and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea's demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucat√°n to the bright lights of Mexico City--and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you embroider narratives, and the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in the myth. Yes, the things you name have power.

I have a deep love of mythology and my GoodReads account is chock full with Greek/Roman, Egyptian and Eastern European myth-retelling. I added The Gods of Jade and Shadow because the summary immediately caught my attention, and I wanted to read more myth-based fiction that wasn’t geared towards Young Adults and wasn’t the same old (Greek, Roman, Egyptian) stories I’ve read before. If you are in the market for a witty, compelling, a little dark and impossibly vivid read – this is for you!

The story is simple: a young woman, Casiopea Tun, suffers under her grandfather’s house after the death of her father, stumbles upon a chest containing the dismembered bones of a Mayan death god, Hun-Kame. Tied together, they set out across 1920s Mexico to collect the missing pieces of Hun-Kame encountering the supernatural in a quest to reclaim Hun-Kame’s stolen throne from his twin brother, Vucub-Kame and enact revenge. 

SETTING. The story begins in the small native Mayan town of Uukumil (Uxmal) in the Yucatan and travels to various corners of Mexico (Merida, Veracruz, Mexico City, Baja California) and the mythical Xilbalba. Each city is more vibrant than the previous as we journey with Casiopea and Hun-Kame through post-revolution 1920s Jazz Age Mexico. I had no issue picturing each place in my mind and even re-read several of the descriptions over because the writing was just that good. 

CHARACTERS. There wasn’t a character I did not enjoy, even the “evil” ones. Casiopea is the kind of heroine I need. She’s been dealt a rough hand but manages to remain true to herself and work hard to achieve her goals. She’s exactly the kind of person you want to journey with in this story, knowing that she will only become stronger as the plot develops.

PACING & PLOT. Typically this is where I find issues. But I have none! Moreno-Garcia spent the right amount of time in each place, moving us swiftly through the traveling part but also taking care to develop the relationship between Casiopea and Hun-Kame. I wasn’t totally on board for the hint of romance, but in the end I think it was subtle enough and easy to focus on the other wonderful parts of this story.

Gods of Jade and Shadow without a doubt makes my top five books for the year, and should make its way to the top of your to read list. Part historical, part mythological, but entirely human story. I can only wish that the ending generates another novel of some kind to continue to explore the world with Casiopea.



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