Gods of Jade and Shadowby Published 23 Jul 2019
|Gods of Jade and Shadow.pdf|
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.
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 Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
"Gods of Jade and Shadow" Reviews
Unlike anything I’ve ever read. This Mayan death god myth-making tale was perfect.
First off, I am probably in the minority here, but I did not see this story as overly similar to a Cinderella tale—the similarities end after the first few chapters. The marketing for Gods of Jade and Shadow bills it as a Jazz-Age Cinderella, but the story felt much more like Hades and Persephone with a dash of the Art Deco.
I could not get enough of this story.
Gods of Jade and Shadow follows the story of Casiopea, a girl growing up in rural Mexico in the early 1900s who discovers a chest of ancient black bones in her grandfather's bedroom. Accidentally cutting herself and bleeding on the bones, Casiopea resurrects the Mayan god of death, Hun-Kame. Hun-Kame was cursed and imprisoned in his bones (well, most of his bones) by his twin brother, and suffice to say Hun-Kame is not pleased with the turn of events. Finding herself tied to Hun-Kame through her blood, Casiopea embarks on a quest with the death god to collect his missing bones and defeat his twin brother to reclaim the Mayan underworld.
Obviously, the tone of Gods of Jade and Shadow is dark and mythic in scope—and it reads that way.
One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the gritty realism brought to the plot by Casiopea herself. She stands apart from almost every other female protagonist I've read. She's no-nonsense in the pragmatic sense, she's extremely dry with her humor, and she does NOT fall into any of the main tropes. Tie these personality traits in with Hun-Kame, an ancient god with no empathy and no sense of sarcasm, and you have a winning match.
Things I loved: Casiopea, Hun-Kame's inability to understand inflection, Hun-Kame and Casiopea's no-nonsense responses to the absurd, the LACK OF AN INSTANT ROMANCE, the adventure-style journey to different parts of 1920s Mexico, the unfolding of the plot, Casiopea's honestly iconic reactions to her cousin, the final climactic sequence, and again for the people in the back THE LACK OF AN UNDERDEVELOPED AND OVERHYPED ROMANCE. There’s a romance, but it’s supremely well done and slow.
Things I didn't love: Alright, I'll be honest. I struggled with the pacing and lack of intimacy with Casiopea at the beginning. It's a slow entrance and a different way to write fantasy—very much keeping in line with old school myth tales. However, by the end I was HOOKED on the writing style and loved the pacing.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Original notes 3/22/19: Unlike anything I’ve ever read. This Mayan death god myth-making tale was one of a kind and its great to see one of my anticipated 2019 YA fantasy releases living up to its expectations. Let’s have more Mexican/Mayan inspired fantasy? Review to come closer to pub date!
"a dark fantasy set in 1920s Mexico inspired by Mayan mythology" and is that a hades & persephone reference i see? this is WONDERFUL. sign me up
"a dark fantasy set in 1920s Mexico inspired by Mayan mythology" this sounds AMAZING
‘’Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament.’’
Yucatán, Mexico, during the 1920s. Casiopea has found herself in an awful situation. Her beloved father, a lover of mythology and fables, has died. Her mother is a weak woman who only knows how to cry and pray. The young woman has been left practically alone, struggling to cope with the insults of her tyrannical grandfather and disgusting cousin. Until the day an old chest is opened and the God of Death escapes. In order to fight against treason and fulfill a mysterious destiny, Casiopea and the dashing god will lead us on an unforgettable journey in one of the most fascinating countries of our planet through folklore, mythology and every virtue and vice of the mortal soul. And the immortal spirit.
‘’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.’’
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has created an outstanding novel. The culture and vibe of Yucatán come alive through beautiful prose. The political background of the complex 1920s is immediately set and this makes for an extremely interesting start. It is then that I understood Gods of Jade and Shadow is so much more than a modern fairy tale. It is a political and social commentary on issues that shape every nation in every era. In my opinion, the beauty of the story lies in the successful balance between Historical Fiction and Mythology. The writer uses the vast Mexican tradition and folklore to demonstrate a young woman’s fight against domestic violence, physical and psychological, against discrimination and limited, preconceived expectations. Through her love for Greek and Mayan mythology and her combined faith to the Christian religion and the beliefs of her forefathers, Casiopea faces a world as fascinating as it is dark, populated with powerful gods and mighty sorceresses, demons, ghosts, strange beings and corrupted priests who use Religion as an excuse to oppress the cries for change. And once again, we come to understand that the vilest of creatures can be found among the mortals. No surprise there really…
‘’And life may not be fair but I must be fair. I can’t turn away.’’
The writing is beautiful, the dialogue is exceptional. Don’t be hesitant if your knowledge of Mayan mythology is limited. The writer is an excellent guide and answers all our questions within the story without being redundant or lectury. However, the strength of this marvelous book lies in the character of Casiopea. She is forced to mature beyond her 18 years and her personality remains an integral part of the plot throughout the book. Despite the circumstances and the constant discoveries she makes concerning herself and the world around her (and beyond…), she doesn’t compromise. She becomes wiser and remains firmly faithful to her values and the principles given to her by her father. She doesn’t lose faith and brings a god to his senses, forcing him to see what is real. Now, Hun-Kamé is perfection. I’m fangirling a bit, yes, but it is true. The God of Death has to come to terms with the mortal nature that is believed to be hidden inside every deity. The dynamic between Casiopea and him is one more driving force of the novel. All characters are excellently drawn, even the ones you’ll come to hate with all your heart, even the tiniest mythical figures will surprise you.
Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Fairytale, Folklore....The novel can easily fall into five-six genres. One thing is for certain. You will adore Gods of Jade and Shadow from the very first chapters. It is a beautiful token of what happens when a truly gifted writer respects the original sources and weaves an exciting and powerful tale relevant to all. A magical, mystical journey.
‘’-Dreams are for mortals.
-Because they must die.’’
Many thanks to Quercus Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
Amazing book! As l have said in my last update, l am not a big fan of political background. This, and the fact that in the first half the book was slow to read, made me give it 4 ⭐. But, otherwise, l highly recommend this beautiful piece, mostly to people that read and liked/loved Middlegame.