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Gods of Jade and Shadow

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The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this 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 The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this 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. Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780525620754


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The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this 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 The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this 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. Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780525620754

30 review for Gods of Jade and Shadow

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Five in the love of Mayan Gods or in the most charismatic and attractive Hun-kame we trust! What an amazing, vivid, joyful, fast-pacing, perfectly described, one cup of mythology and two cups of Mexican culture and history, three cups of author’s unbelievably impeccable and detailed imagination mixed into a fantastic journey stars! I insist to give too many awards to this book, let’s start our award ceremony (Carlos Santana made its opening by singing “Black Magic Woman” which fits perfectly to Five in the love of Mayan Gods or in the most charismatic and attractive Hun-kame we trust! What an amazing, vivid, joyful, fast-pacing, perfectly described, one cup of mythology and two cups of Mexican culture and history, three cups of author’s unbelievably impeccable and detailed imagination mixed into a fantastic journey stars! I insist to give too many awards to this book, let’s start our award ceremony (Carlos Santana made its opening by singing “Black Magic Woman” which fits perfectly to this book. We don’t have a host, they dropped their gig before the ceremony. Shame on them!) Best heroine: APPLAUSE FOR CA-SI-O-PEA! She is defiant, straightforward, honest, smart, sarcastic, born and raised fighter kind of badass heroine! From the beginning of the book she steals your heart. You detest the unfairness she had to endure. You want her have a better future, opportunities! You want to encourage her screaming:” Come on girl, you can do whatever you put on your brilliant mind.) Finally she meets with a God and her story suddenly changes. Best hero-GOD- half God/half human: RAISE YOU HANDS TO CLAP our blazing God Hun-Kame! At first he was pretentious, obnoxious, show-off guy who had no sense of humor but as soon as he started to turn into human and learned how to smile, your heart completely warns and you start to root for him. BEST CHEMISTRY AND BEST COUPLE: Casiopea and Hun-Kame had hot and cold kind of slow burn romantic relationship but their sizzling, pant dropping kind of chemistry was undeniable. There was a little obstacle. You cannot choose a God as your love interest, right? BEST DESPICABLE VILLAIN: Martin is the evil cousin I detested too much because of his nasty behavior, treating so unfairly to Casiopea . I loved the parts of the story narrated by him. Reading his side of story will soften your feelings about him but it still doesn’t justify his wrongdoings. You only pity on him a little because he was also a victim but the victimization turned him into a bitter and mean boy. BEST CLASSIC TERRIFYING VILLIAN: Let’s boo and throw all the tomatoes and eggs to his face. Vucub-Kame is evil brother who is power thirsty, selfish, ruthless, detesting, soulless villain. You ask yourself what kind of God is he? And why the Gods are depicted as the harshest and merciless beings? BEST SUPPORTING DEVIL WE KNOW: Loray ! Loray! Hurray! Isn’t he reminded of us Tom Ellis’ Lucifer portrait. I was waiting for him to call Casiopea “Detective” in British accent. And don’t forget his raven positioned on his shoulder. This is vivid, remarkable and entertaining character. BEST STORY-TELLING: I just imagine every place scene by scene like I was watching a movie and seeing different views from the cities. It was like so real, tangible, vivid, colorful. BEST ending: It was a little heartbreaking but it gives some vibes there might be sequel coming. Please please I want to read more Casiopea. I’m so curious about her future stories. As a summary: If you want to take a mythological, entertaining, historical trip, get your ticket, sorry your copy of book and join the incredible journey of Casiopea and Hun-Kame! You won’t regret any second of it! Better than lying on the beach.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    Me, flirting with this cover: Hey, have I seen you from somewhere? You remind me of a book....that I should get to know (。•ᴗ-) Me, flirting with this cover: Hey, have I seen you from somewhere? You remind me of a book....that I should get to know ‎(。•̀ᴗ-)✧

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rick Riordan

    I loved Moreno-Garcia’s vampire novel Certain Dark Things, so I was excited to read her take on the Maya gods. Set in Mexico in the 1920s, the book follows Cassiopeia Tun, the ‘poor relations’ granddaughter of a small town patriarch in the Yucatan. Cassiopeia’s mother disgraced the family by eloping with Cassiopeia’s dark-skinned father, then had no choice but to return to her family when her husband died. Now Cassiopeia is forced to work as the family maid, while her arrogant cousin Martín I loved Moreno-Garcia’s vampire novel Certain Dark Things, so I was excited to read her take on the Maya gods. Set in Mexico in the 1920s, the book follows Cassiopeia Tun, the ‘poor relations’ granddaughter of a small town patriarch in the Yucatan. Cassiopeia’s mother disgraced the family by eloping with Cassiopeia’s dark-skinned father, then had no choice but to return to her family when her husband died. Now Cassiopeia is forced to work as the family maid, while her arrogant cousin Martín misses no chance to boss her around and get her in trouble. Cassiopeia’s future seems hopeless and bleak until in a moment of defiance she opens a locked chest in her grandfather’s bedroom, and releases an imprisoned Maya god of death, Hun-Kame. Formerly the king of the Maya Underworld, Xibalba, Hun-Kame was overthrown by his treacherous twin brother Vucub-Kame, who charged Cassiopeia’s grandfather with guarding the box that held Hun-Kame’s bones. As extra insurance against Hun-Kame’s return, Vucub-Kame also took bits and pieces of his brother — an eye, a finger, a necklace — and scattered them across the land so Hun-Kame could never be whole again even if he somehow escaped. Hun-Kame rises from his prison neither man nor god, but determined to reclaim his throne. He enlists Cassiopeia as his comrade-in-arms, and the two set off across Mexico to restore Hun-Kame by finding his missing bits. Meanwhile, Vucub-Kame recruits Cassiopeia’s repugnant cousin Martín to stop them. The quest narrative is marvelous, with demons, evil spirits, sorcerers and flappers dancing the Charleston. The romantic tension is electric between Cassiopeia and her god of death companion, who cannot possibly feel love (or can he?) What I especially loved is Moreno-Garcia’s refusal to offer easy solutions, or to cast any of her characters as completely good or evil. We come to understand everyone’s motives, and to feel sympathy for the devil (or at least the gods of Xibalba). This is a delicious novel with Maya mythology seamlessly interwoven into a Jazz Age love story adventure.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Teodora

    3.75/5 Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf I've dreamed of travelling to Mexico since I've first discovered telenovelas decades ago and if this book is the closest thing to that then so be it. It really felt like I was sitting at a wooden table listening to a Mexican grandma telling me a story of her childhood while wrapping up tamales. It really felt that warm. I liked it very much but I didn't love it. Mostly because I am weird. But that's not all. I somehow managed to have a tangled 3.75/5 ⭐ Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺 I've dreamed of travelling to Mexico since I've first discovered telenovelas decades ago and if this book is the closest thing to that then so be it. It really felt like I was sitting at a wooden table listening to a Mexican grandma telling me a story of her childhood while wrapping up tamales. It really felt that warm. I liked it very much but I didn't love it. Mostly because I am weird. But that's not all. I somehow managed to have a tangled vision of the 1920s Mexico and all I can say is that aside for the time-forgotten little town of Uukumil, everything else was impressively modern. Maybe I am being ignorant, but I wasn't expecting that sort of construction. This whole idea of a tour around Mexico was indeed very clever and I applaud it mostly because it actually made me go and search on the map all those places mentioned (yes, my ignorant arse strikes again). Even with the whole travelling around the country, I still felt like the action was a bit stiff. It didn't really happen anything. I wanted more! This wasn't that and it makes me sad to think of it. I needed less blandness in the action for this. Also, at the beginning and still after a good chunk of the book I felt like I couldn't like any of the characters. Exept for the main character, Casiopea Tun, who was the one that seemed a bit better than the rest. She felt wrong and right at the same time and this is why I liked her from the start. She was lonely and unlucky, but brave and hopeful. Dubiously interesting combination. “In her spare time, she looked to books or the stars for company.” And interesting concept comes into the spotlight in this book and this is the awkward but cute friendship between Casiopea and this big, bad god of death, Hun-Kamé. His vengeance on his twin brother who tricked him years ago, Vucub-Kamé, is what sets all things in motion in this book, but Casiopea is the one that gives it the push. Their whole journey tightens their relationship and turns it into a beautiful thing. They come to love and trust each other, a thing more natural than the other. And this is beautiful. “It was as if the land opened its lips and breathed again, and was made anew.” I truly appreciated the fact that the whole thing wasn't revolving around the two main characters falling in love with each other. Their love came natural, following its course and being light and simple and sincere. The coolest thing about this book, however, is the fact that it is based on actual Mayan mythology. I know very little about Maya civilisation so this was purely interesting and educative for me. Even though I wanted to encounter more local traditions and maybe some more Mayan day-to-day beliefs, this was very well documented and it highlighted very well some of the most important myths of the Maya culture, anchoring them in the mortal reality of the time. Also, the tiny glossary at the end of the book really sold it for me! It was a nice book. And I truly recommend it to nearly-clueless people (like me) who want to learn something new that might get fascinating or just desperately want a break from winter on a distant and warm land. It's your call, people, but I'm taking the initiative for you. Read it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    ‘’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, ‘’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. -Why? -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...

  6. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    ~ A Mayan-inspired fable set in Jazz Era Mexico ~ Channeling her inner-Cinderella, Casiopea Tun, is tidying up her Grandfather's living quarters when she unintentionally frees Hun-Kame, the Mayan God of Death, from his imprisonment. Brought back to life after his brother slayed him and captured him in locked box, Hun-Kame is ready to get his life and his kingdom back. Unfortunately, for Casiopea, he needs her help in order to do so. Whether she likes it or not, she's along for the ride. Tied ~ A Mayan-inspired fable set in Jazz Era Mexico ~ Channeling her inner-Cinderella, Casiopea Tun, is tidying up her Grandfather's living quarters when she unintentionally frees Hun-Kame, the Mayan God of Death, from his imprisonment. Brought back to life after his brother slayed him and captured him in locked box, Hun-Kame is ready to get his life and his kingdom back. Unfortunately, for Casiopea, he needs her help in order to do so. Whether she likes it or not, she's along for the ride. Tied together by an unnatural bond of flesh and soul, they set out on a quest to recover the parts of him stolen and hidden away by his brother. So begins the adventure of a lifetime for young Casiopea, who is finally able to escape the degrading clutches of her family. This is such a beautifully told story. From beginning to end, Moreno-Garcia weaves the most intricate tale of love, power, forgiveness and sacrifice. I love her writing so much. It is simple and lyrical, flowing smoothly from chapter to chapter. I first fell for Moreno-Garcia's writing when I read, The Beautiful Ones in 2017. Even though that book was also beautifully written, this one displays her skills at a whole new level. Her writing has matured a lot and this story truly transports you not only to the culture she is introducing but to the time period as well. Simply stunning. I loved learning more about Mayan mythology and culture. I think anyone interested in more modern retellings of myths and legends will enjoy this one. Even if you do not think that is something you would be crazy about, at its heart, this story is a quest and it delivers in that capacity in spades. Casiopea is such a wonderful character. Although raised in terrible circumstances, mistreated and abused by those around her, she has an incredible sense of will and resolve that she channels throughout this adventure. In her heart, she has the strength of a lioness and that serves her well. I admired her, I adored Hun-Kame and the two of them together is pure magic! Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and had such a great reading experience with this one. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a fan in me and I will definitely be picking up anything else she writes!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    Unlike anything I’ve ever read. This Mayan death god myth-making tale was perfect. Writing: Concept: Characters: Pacing: First off, I am probably in the minority, 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 Unlike anything I’ve ever read. This Mayan death god myth-making tale was perfect. Writing: ★★★★★ Concept: ★★★★★ Characters: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★★★ First off, I am probably in the minority, 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. Blog | Instagram

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    3.75 stars. This is a beautiful book, but it’s a beauty that kept me at a distance. The world and mythology is lush, and the prose fits the story well, but the feeling of reading a myth kept me from truly engaging with the story. I loved our main character and rooted for her, but truly never felt she was in danger and even though this isn’t a mythology I’m familiar with, I still felt I knew the general beats the story would take. This reminded me a bit of American Gods in that way with the prose 3.75 stars. This is a beautiful book, but it’s a beauty that kept me at a distance. The world and mythology is lush, and the prose fits the story well, but the feeling of reading a myth kept me from truly engaging with the story. I loved our main character and rooted for her, but truly never felt she was in danger and even though this isn’t a mythology I’m familiar with, I still felt I knew the general beats the story would take. This reminded me a bit of American Gods in that way with the prose and the mythology, and that’s a story that I also felt at arms length from. I still enjoyed this for the beauty that it was, but it will probably not live in my feelings in the way that I had hoped.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Roanhorse

    Oh, my heart! So, so very good. This is a evocative and moving fairy-tale about a downtrodden girl and the Maya God of Death and how they both find each other and their humanity together. Moreno-Garcia consistently knows how to find my heartstrings and pull them - not in a sappy way but in quiet moments of vulnerability and honesty. Her vision of 1920's Mexico and, more strikingly, the Maya Underworld, are vivid and enchanting and bring the story alive. I'm convinced both are/were equally real. Oh, my heart! So, so very good. This is a evocative and moving fairy-tale about a downtrodden girl and the Maya God of Death and how they both find each other and their humanity together. Moreno-Garcia consistently knows how to find my heartstrings and pull them - not in a sappy way but in quiet moments of vulnerability and honesty. Her vision of 1920's Mexico and, more strikingly, the Maya Underworld, are vivid and enchanting and bring the story alive. I'm convinced both are/were equally real. Also, this book is highly addictive. I read it in 24 hrs, having to know the fate of both the main characters, which is, in Moreno-Garcia fashion, quite bittersweet. Loved it. Highly recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    2.5 stars In spite of the beautiful attention that Gods of Jade and Shadow pays to the function of myths and deities in our everyday lives...this turned out to be an unexpectedly juvenile read... The swift storytelling found in Gods of Jade and Shadow might not appeal to those readers who prefer slower and more in depth narratives such as The Song of Achilles. Here there is a focus on the action or better yet on the quest undertaken by our protagonist. Scenes rarely featured the same backdrop ★★★✰✰ 2.5 stars In spite of the beautiful attention that Gods of Jade and Shadow pays to the function of myths and deities in our everyday lives...this turned out to be an unexpectedly juvenile read... The swift storytelling found in Gods of Jade and Shadow might not appeal to those readers who prefer slower and more in depth narratives such as The Song of Achilles. Here there is a focus on the action or better yet on the quest undertaken by our protagonist. Scenes rarely featured the same backdrop since the various characters keep moving from one location to another which in turn leads to underdeveloped settings. The various places and characters-human and non-encountered by our protagonist(s) are often breezed through so that they have little time to leave an impression on the reader. Having finished this book a few days ago I recall not one of the characters that Casiopea and Hun-Kamé encounter...which isn't a good sign. The story is predictable and follows a repetitive pattern in which our cinderella-like main character Casiopea unwilling joins a former god, Hun-Kamé, who will be able to regain his rightful role as ruler of Xibalbla only after he finds certain 'items' (which are conveniently stored in places he knows of and that are fairly easy to reach). The story in its simplicity seems more fitting in a middle-grade novel rather than an adult one, and in fact, I would have actually preferred it if this book had been clearly aimed at a younger audience. Another criticism I have is that it should have been more decisive in its tone, darker as Valente's Deathless, or as tantalisingly ingenious as Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series, or even as satirical and fun as Zen Cho's Sorcerer Royal duology. But the tone in Gods of Jade and Shadow remained rather inconsistent, which is a pity since there are many occasions where Moreno-Garcia's writing style does really echo that of a skilled storyteller. The narration at times evoked that of a fairytale yet in certain instances this omniscient narrative seemed rather simplistic and often reached clichéd conjectures. The setting only comes into focus when the narrative explicitly addresses some of the trends of the twenties...mentioning a couple of times the popular dances and haircuts from this period does not render the time in question. At times it did so by literally blurting out these trends on the page: “Mexico City in the 1920s was all about the United States, reproducing its women, its dances, its fast pace. Charleston! The bob cut! Ford Cars!” I wanted more of the vernacular (which I know is difficult since the characters are not speaking in English but I'm sure that there are differences between contemporary Yucatec Maya and the one spoken in the 20s). The story could have easily had a modern setting as the only thing that truly emerges from this historical setting is that our protagonist as a woman has little control over her life. Another thing that detracted from my overall enjoyment of this story was the over use of exclamation marks (“It was not possible. He was ruler of Xibalbla now! Nothing could change this, nothing could ruin his plans.”) or when the narrative used expressions such as 'oh dear' (“That might be a relief, since she did not understand what they were supposed to do in the city, and oh dear, she wasn't ready for any of this.”). Perhaps this was done to lend immediacy to the events narrated or to give urgency to certain moments or thoughts but it seemed a bit contrived and was not handled all that well. As the story focuses on the quest, the characters seemed rather flaky. Casiopea was the typical heroine of certain YA fiction, she is kind and just yet has endured many wrongs (alienated from the rest of her family, made to their bidding, etc...). Much was made of her 'temper' so much so that I kept excepting a trace of it but found none. I'm not sure why her will was emphasised so much, and in often such cheesy lines: “She was wilful, daggers hidden beneath her muttered yeses, her eyes fixing on him, slick as oil.” The romance was unnecessary and 'blossomed' out of nowhere. It made a potentially interesting character into a love interest, turning yet another dark and powerful death god into little more than eye-candy. In spite of all these flaws I still enjoyed those passages which solely focused on reiterating Mayan mythology. It was in those moments that the narrative really brought into focus the events and figures it spoke of. And there were certain descriptions that had a nice rhythm but these were far too few. “There was the slim veneer of civilty to his actions. He spoke unpleasantries, but in the tone of a gentleman.” Overall, I'm not sure I do recommend this one. Cho's fantasy-romp series (Sorcerer to the Crown & The True Queen) offers a similar type of fast-paced storytelling but with much more historical detail, while N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season creates a much more complex and compelling narrative that addresses dynamics between humans and divine beings. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emer (A Little Haze)

    Publishing July 23rd, 2019 I was so excited when I heard about this book and so was beyond thrilled when I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC from NetGalley and WOW DID THIS BOOK NOT DISAPPOINT!!! I loved it. Absolutely loved it. This book to me is the perfect blend of fantasy, mythology and historical fiction. It's filled with Mayan folklore that truly came alive for me. I must confess I know nothing about Mayan mythology but this book has been a wonderful starting point for me. Apparently it Publishing July 23rd, 2019 I was so excited when I heard about this book and so was beyond thrilled when I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC from NetGalley and WOW DID THIS BOOK NOT DISAPPOINT!!! I loved it. Absolutely loved it. This book to me is the perfect blend of fantasy, mythology and historical fiction. It's filled with Mayan folklore that truly came alive for me. I must confess I know nothing about Mayan mythology but this book has been a wonderful starting point for me. Apparently it is inspired by the Popol Vuh which is a text that recounts the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people, one of the Maya peoples, and ahhhh I just need to know more!!!! The story focuses on the Mayan gods of death, Hun-Kamé and Vucub-Kamé, and their fight for control of their underworld, Xibalba. And into the story of course comes unsuspecting humans, brilliant Casiopea and her (douchebag!) cousin Martín. Casiopea is a brilliant character. Her upbringing was one of sadness and mistreatment (especially at the hands of her cold hearted grandfather and cousin Martín) but I liked how it didn't quell her inner feisty spirit. I basically just loved her sassiness and how she very much owned who she was as a person. And her journey with Hun-Kamé was absolutely everything I love about traditional quests and adventures. I thought that the standoffish godlike-persona of Hun-Kamé really juxtaposed nicely with Casiopea's warmth and therefore, really enjoyed how their relationship evolved showing us how such disparate characters could eventually find their commonality. I also loved getting some of the story given to us from Martín's PoV. I liked how seeing his side of events helped to frame him as a more complex character than purely someone who was unkind to his poorer relative. What was also really engaging was how the author really made the world her characters were inhabiting come alive for the reader. I very much enjoyed all the touches of the Jazz age that peppered the real world narrative along with some very vivid descriptions of the Mayan Underworld. At times this book had an almost Young Adult quality to it, and I mean that in a good way, as the story was very accessible and immediately engaging but it's definitely an adult novel due to some slightly squeamish moments for those of us with weak stomachs towards the end of the book. This was a book that I 100% loved and I can't wait to read more from the author ...and grab a physical copy of this once it is released because wow isn't that cover gorgeous 😍😍 Highly recommended to fans of books that retell mythologies *An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Quercus/Jo Fletcher Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* For more reviews and book related chat check out my blog

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    Why you may not like this book: A peak through the reviews might leave you confused as some people describe this as slow and some as swift. I think it depends what you are expecting. To me, this didn't have those injections of action sequences that I've come to expect from fantasy, but it was a quest and there is a time clock that pulls you toward the end. I would describe this as steady. If you want a slower, deeper character study or a faster, more action filled adventure, this will not quite Why you may not like this book: A peak through the reviews might leave you confused as some people describe this as slow and some as swift. I think it depends what you are expecting. To me, this didn't have those injections of action sequences that I've come to expect from fantasy, but it was a quest and there is a time clock that pulls you toward the end. I would describe this as steady. If you want a slower, deeper character study or a faster, more action filled adventure, this will not quite satisfy. I would not recommend this for people who generally don't enjoy fairytales, as I think you will miss a lot of what Moreno-Garcia has recreated. I also would avoid if you struggle with love stories that are on the angsty/star-crossed style. I've seen plenty of comparisons between this and Cinderella, which feels kind of cheap considering the real tie is that our MC starts the story working for her rich family. This is more closely a death and the maiden story, to me, which I think is helpful in deciding if you will enjoy. Why I loved this book: That steady pace was so delicious to me. It felt thoughtful and I enjoyed every single piece Moreno-Garcia put down, from each element of Mayan mythology to each detail about the Jazz age to every step in Casiopea's character arc. I love Moreno-Garcia's writing. I find it very evocative and I love the ways she uses the senses in order to build her fantastical worlds. This is a setting and a story that is rich in color. She grounds the her story of gods and magic in not only a historical context, but with a main character I felt was an excellent entry point into the story. This is very much a coming of age story, and while this is adult fiction, I think the influence of that coming of age, of Casiopea being out in the world for the first time, makes this read younger than expected. I love coming of age stories, however, and I didn't mind one bit. This story explores a lot of duality, the strengths and weaknesses of our Casiopea's character, the push and pull of Hun-Kame becoming human and more relateable, and becoming the own master of your destiny alongside the inevitable pull of death. I loved it so much.

  13. 4 out of 5

    enqi ☁️✨

    "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

  14. 4 out of 5

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    I'm not going to write a review of my own book but here's some common questions I get. 1. Will there be a sequel? Short answer, no. It's intended as a stand-alone. 2. Is it really adult? Isn't it YA? Book classification is a funny thing. Some reasons for having this out as an adult book have to do with the choices of my publisher, but also my own feeling that the omniscient tell-don't-show bits of the novel would make it feel distancing and unappealing for teenagers (plus some other stuff, which I'm not going to write a review of my own book but here's some common questions I get. 1. Will there be a sequel? Short answer, no. It's intended as a stand-alone. 2. Is it really adult? Isn't it YA? Book classification is a funny thing. Some reasons for having this out as an adult book have to do with the choices of my publisher, but also my own feeling that the omniscient tell-don't-show bits of the novel would make it feel distancing and unappealing for teenagers (plus some other stuff, which I won't go into right now). And sure, there's adults who also hate omniscient POVs, but teens seems to hate them more (at least judging by the ones I know). If new adult had taken off as a category maybe that might have worked as a shelf, but it doesn't seem to have done very well. Ultimately, I think it's a fantasy bildungsroman, which may be very appealing to adults who like a fairy tale feel but also cross-over well to older teenagers. 3. Talking about narrators, there's a lot of telling. Is that intentional? Short answer, yes. Long answer: I discuss Latin American culture and other stuff related to this in a blog post. 4. I liked your Book X, but this sounds totally different from that. Will I be disappointed? I like writing things that can be wildly different. I don't feel it's disappointing but if you liked the grittiness of, say, Certain Dark Things, this is definitely not grim dark. 5. But it's a Maya God of Death! Why isn't it grimdark? I wanted to write something hopeful that reflected the beauty of my culture. I've written gritty stuff before and will still do it. But not this time. 6. Are there any resources for book clubs Del Rey put together a PDF with some info. Also check my website, scroll to the bottom for interviews and articles. And there's a glossary at the back of the book, if you want to start there. 7. Are the locations real? Yes, for the most part. You can trace the journey on a map. The casino/hotel I mention is based on a real one: Agua Caliente, in Tijuana.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    This one could have gone either way with me. Either I would bounce or I would fall in love. Fortunately, it had all the right mixtures, enjoyable classic storytelling, great characters, and above all, it was a very fun read. So I call this one a winner. Whew! Aztec death gods. The 1920's. And we throw this poor girl into a situation where she must help a death god find his missing pieces before he drains the life from her and he loses his godhood... in mortality. Such. A. Classic. Storyline. I This one could have gone either way with me. Either I would bounce or I would fall in love. Fortunately, it had all the right mixtures, enjoyable classic storytelling, great characters, and above all, it was a very fun read. So I call this one a winner. Whew! Aztec death gods. The 1920's. And we throw this poor girl into a situation where she must help a death god find his missing pieces before he drains the life from her and he loses his godhood... in mortality. Such. A. Classic. Storyline. I mean, you can almost smell the romance from here. The transference of godhood and mortality between these two individuals, the hearts racing, the shared desire to quest it out sooner, faster, harder, before she loses all her vitality? Beautiful. No spoilers. This is just beautiful Mexican storytelling. Tragic and heartfelt and desperate. And don't think this is all. It's a story about family, too. About brothers. Cousins. About life and death and reaching for what you want NOW. :) Am I a fan? Yes, I am.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lilith Black

    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. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Olive

    I have two reviews for this beauty! A video on booktube: https://youtu.be/inqPJhcCtr8 and the below written review originally appeared on Open Letters Review: In her newest release, Silvia Moreno-Garcia gives readers the glitz of the Jazz Age, south of the border. Gods of Jade and Shadow, based in Mayan mythology, tells the story of eighteen-year-old Casiopea Tun, who unwittingly releases the rightful king of the underworld of Xibalba from his makeshift tomb in her grandfather’s home. Set on the I have two reviews for this beauty! A video on booktube: https://youtu.be/inqPJhcCtr8 and the below written review originally appeared on Open Letters Review: In her newest release, Silvia Moreno-Garcia gives readers the glitz of the Jazz Age, south of the border. Gods of Jade and Shadow, based in Mayan mythology, tells the story of eighteen-year-old Casiopea Tun, who unwittingly releases the rightful king of the underworld of Xibalba from his makeshift tomb in her grandfather’s home. Set on the Yucatán peninsula in the 1920s, the story braids together the familiar and the novel. Comparisons to Cinderella will come quick to the mind when readers are presented with the downtrodden situation of the main character when we first meet her. Casiopea and her mother have lived in her grandfather’s lavish abode for years but receive none of the spoils of his wealth. Quite the opposite, in fact; they are expected to wait on their relatives while suffering verbal and physical abuse due to the family’s belief that the actions and background of the mother-daughter pair brand them as lower class. Casiopea yearns for the opportunity not solely to be free of this torment, but to finally experience the world beyond her small town: She had looked up at the night sky far too often, trying to divine her future in the face of the pockmarked moon. Casiopea was a realist, but her youth made it impossible to remain rooted to the earth every second of the day. Once in a while she sneaked a line of poetry into her heart, or memorized the name of a star. There are indeed several similarities between Casiopea and arguably the most famous of all fairy tale princesses. Both are trapped by family, both long to hear the click of their heels on the dance floor, and, most critically, both are deeply kind at the core. However, our leading lady is far more of a spitfire than Cinderella ever dreamed of being. She is rarely afraid to speak her mind or go against those with far more power than her own if she believes she is doing the morally correct thing. She is far from the vain and boastful queen of the constellation for which she was named. This proves helpful and problematic for the former prisoner, the ousted ruler of the underworld Hun-Kamé. It is exclusively Casiopea’s lifeblood that sustains him in his partially human resurrected form, so she must accompany him on his quest to find three missing body parts he needs to obtain before regaining his full power and status. While he is kept alive by the fiery energy of our young protagonist, there is a serious time crunch factor. The longer the two are linked, the more human the god will become; if the situation goes on too long, he will absorb the life right out of her. He must find the lost appendages before he is made whole and can sever the link between them, at which point he will triumphantly reclaim his throne and exact his revenge. As Cassiopea and her devilish companion inch closer to their mutually beneficial goal, we begin to notice a change in Hun-Kamé that, on the surface, appears to be an improvement. He’s softer around the edges and notably less harsh with our heroine. Yet this is actually evidence of the urgency of their task; he is becoming more human by the minute as his link with Casiopea intensifies. This provides a refreshing yet heartbreaking take on the slow-burn romance: the growing affection between these two characters produces as much anxiety as it does satisfaction since the more relatable the god becomes, the worse their mutual situation grows. Will Casiopea sever the link between them through her own act of sacrifice? Or will she be a Mexican Mephistopheles, serving at the hands of the devil until the bitter end? Moreno-Garcia’s 2015 release Signal to Noise had readers hearing the music that sits at the heart of the main character as well as the story. But in this new novel, the author pivots on what sense she targets. She focuses not on our ears but our mind’s eye as she brings this world to life with color. The titular jade is abundant and the author’s palette is expansive. As Casiopea and Hun-Kamé travel around Mexico and into the Southwestern United States, the simple yet richly evocative prose vividly paints their path and the various other magical characters they meet on it. Even the underworld, a place we would assume would be the epitome of drab, comes alive with vibrant hues: Xibalba, splendid and frightful, was a land of stifling gloom, lit by a cheerless night-sun and lacking a moon. The hour of twilight did not cease here. In Xibalba’s rivers there lurked jade caimans, alabaster fish swam in ink-black ponds, and glass insects buzzed about, creating a peculiar melody with the tinkering of their transparent wings. The effect is deeply sensory and absorbing, taking the reader on a visual and emotional journey as the two leading characters are confronted with fearsome foes and impossible choices. Readers of Naomi Novik will drink this book in with greedy gulps. Concise yet commanding and measuredly paced, Gods of Jade and Shadow combines whimsy, adventure, and an uplifting central message to create the kind of rip-roaring good time that myths are made of.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    "a dark fantasy set in 1920s Mexico inspired by Mayan mythology" this sounds AMAZING

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

    First. let me say that I really enjoyed the complexity of the characters, especially Martin. I mean, I totally hated him and thought he was a horrible person, but I understood him and how he had been shaped by his surroundings to become the little jerk that he did. I also liked Casiopea and her internal struggles. And yet, at the same, I really didn't like her all that much for some reason. I don't know why! I also didn't quite like Hun-Kamé but at the same time I actually kind of did. I think First. let me say that I really enjoyed the complexity of the characters, especially Martin. I mean, I totally hated him and thought he was a horrible person, but I understood him and how he had been shaped by his surroundings to become the little jerk that he did. I also liked Casiopea and her internal struggles. And yet, at the same, I really didn't like her all that much for some reason. I don't know why! I also didn't quite like Hun-Kamé but at the same time I actually kind of did. I think the issue is that while they were interesting I never actually connected with them and therefore couldn't quite get as invested as I would have wanted. In fact, my inability to get invested was one of my main issues and it happened through all the parts of the novel. At times the book reads almost like a fairytale. Better yet, like a myth. And while I love that style of mostly telling rather than showing and of using a very particular form of language in things like fairytales and myths, I don't love in a novel. I wanted to be shown things, not told. I wanted writing that was easier to follow and dive into and that's not what I got. In the end, I didn't love this book. No matter how much I tried. I'm certain that many will love it, and I'm happy for you if you do. Sadly, I don't think it was quite for me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Read for my 2018 women of speculative fiction challenge. “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.” What is it with all of these 2019 releases and their stunning covers? This one ties with The Ten-Thousand Doors of January as one of the best I’ve seen this year. It’s Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadows, and spoilers and mentions of abuse and suicide follow. So What’ Read for my 2018 women of speculative fiction challenge. “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.” What is it with all of these 2019 releases and their stunning covers? This one ties with The Ten-Thousand Doors of January as one of the best I’ve seen this year. It’s Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadows, and spoilers and mentions of abuse and suicide follow. So What’s It About? “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.” What I Thought/The F Word I have been meaning to read something by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for a very long time, and now I will definitely be seeking out more of her works in the future. Gods of Jade and Shadow was a thoroughly enjoyable tale of love and mythology intertwined in the most magical of ways. A lot of my enjoyment has to do with how absolutely replete with ambiance this book is: the settings from Veracruz to Tijuana to Mexico City were all so vividly described and beautifully realized. You truly feel the vibrancy of Mexican life and culture in the Jazz Age, while it’s also clear from Casiopea’s humble beginnings in a poor little town that many people were not able to partake in that enjoyment and excitement. While the real world settings jumped off the page, I also loved the descriptions of Xibalba, the realm of the Mayan gods of death. I also thoroughly enjoyed Casiopea as a protagonist. She was funny, smart, courageous, kind and good and overall just such a pleasure to read about. It sounds cheesy but in many ways the story is about her learning to believe in her dreams, and gradually realizing that she can live a life filled with agency as opposed to abuse and drudgery. She also learns to overcome some of her internalized judgement regarding what makes a “good” or “bad” woman after doing things like getting a haircut, wearing more modern clothes and being drawn to Hun-Kamé. Hun-Kamé himself seems to be one of the more polarizing aspects of the story, and some of my friends have said that they found him to be boring. I can understand that, but instead of describing him as boring I’d say that in the beginning of the book he is simply aloof and inaccessible in the way that you might expect from an immortal all-powerful being bent on vengeance. Over the course of the story he grows more human and we see him learn about compassion and humor and vulnerability before becoming a god once again. I think it’s possible that some readers didn’t care for this process of transformation, or possibly they found it too subtle, or they were offput by that distance he embodies in the beginning. I’m actually a pretty big fan of the romance that develops between Hun-Kamé and Casiopea because I’ve only read a few romances that do what I think Moreno-Garcia does here: she creates a romance where it is apparent that these characters do care for each other, but you also see why their relationship will not and should not work. At the heart of this matter is Hun-Kamé’s nature as a god and the power dynamic it creates. We see Hun-Kamé’s entitlement to all that Casiopea must do for him, and over the course of the story she must repeatedly make sacrifices and put herself at risk for his sake to the point that she sacrifices her life to win the competition in the Underworld. Clearly this is not a healthy relationship because part of Hun-Kamé is unable to see her as anything more than a disposable tool in his quest for vengeance. But there is another part of him, the human part, that does truly come to care for her, and the conflict between these two parts is what makes their parting at the end of the story incredibly bittersweet but entirely appropriate. I haven’t read many romances that end like Gods of Jade and Shadow does, with both people ending up happy despite the fact that they are not with the person they love, and I have to say that it was deeply refreshing. I also loved that the main antagonists were given. Martin ultimately finds a bit of redemption upon refusing to kill Casiopea, and Hun-Kamé’s brother has a clear motivation for his actions. I found his cause to be fascinating in that he wanted to spread Mayan worship across the world to increase his influence after the fall of the Mayan civilization. If I have any complaints about the plot it'd probably be that it feels as though the retrieval of each piece of Hun-Kamé comes so easily for the pair of them that it rather lowered the stakes of the story. I think the difficult part was always supposed to be the confrontation between the brothers, but it did bother me that the rest of it seemed so easy. The story is based on the mythology of the Popul Vuh, which is a history of the K’iche’, one of the Mayan peoples who thrived before the Spanish conquest of Guatemala. I think you could argue for Gods of Jade and Shadow as an anti-colonialist work of fantasy in its emphasis on pre-Hispanic culture and magic and its right to survival and remembrance in spite of what has been lost. About the Author (from her website) "Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music and magic, won a Copper Cylinder Award and was nominated for the British Fantasy, Locus, Sunburst and Aurora awards. Her second novel, Certain Dark Things, focused on narco vampires in Mexico City. It was selected as one of NPR’s best books of 2016 and was a finalist for the Locus and Sunburst awards. Silvia’s short story collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was a finalist for the Sunburst Award. She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows (World Fantasy Award winner, published in the USA as Cthulhu’s Daughters), Fungi, Dead North and Fractured. Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press. She also co-edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review with Lavie Tidhar and the horror magazine The Dark with Sean Wallace. She’s a columnist for The Washington Post and reviews books for NPR.She has an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis can be read online and is titled “Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft.”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Orey

    The 1920s Mexico setting is awesome! I'm less sure about the Mayan mythology elements, which to me seemed a little... not strange enough? I guess I'd expect timeless Mayan death gods who arrive into our world to feel so so so horrifically out of place. There were some glimmers of Mayan death god terror but mostly it was an oddly chill reading experience? There are certainly some strange elements woven in, and some of the "why isn't this stranger?" aspects are explained in the story. But overall The 1920s Mexico setting is awesome! I'm less sure about the Mayan mythology elements, which to me seemed a little... not strange enough? I guess I'd expect timeless Mayan death gods who arrive into our world to feel so so so horrifically out of place. There were some glimmers of Mayan death god terror but mostly it was an oddly chill reading experience? There are certainly some strange elements woven in, and some of the "why isn't this stranger?" aspects are explained in the story. But overall the characters and the supernatural elements felt oddly recognizable to me. The story overall was really straightforward, not necessary in a bad way. It was a lot of obstacles to be overcome through interesting magical mythology and steady character development. It's a fun read. Mostly what will stick with me is the potential of the setting, which was an inspired choice for fantasy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    This book is kind of reminds me of one of my favorite desserts, deep fried ice-cream. In my favorite restaurants that serve it vanilla is only is only flavor with optional choice of topping, In it's core it's still plain vanilla ice-cream but combination of cold ice-cream, hot pastry around it and topping (caramel ftw) make it more than sum of it's parts and more enjoyable than it sounds. This book is kind of like that. In it's core it's vanilla ice-cream, fairytale like story with awful This book is kind of reminds me of one of my favorite desserts, deep fried ice-cream. In my favorite restaurants that serve it vanilla is only is only flavor with optional choice of topping, In it's core it's still plain vanilla ice-cream but combination of cold ice-cream, hot pastry around it and topping (caramel ftw) make it more than sum of it's parts and more enjoyable than it sounds. This book is kind of like that. In it's core it's vanilla ice-cream, fairytale like story with awful villains, innocent heroine and brooding prince but it's wrapped in interesting setting of 1920's Mexico and topped with Mayan mythology and folklore to make one fulfilling dessert.

  23. 5 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Emma Knight Gods of Jade and Shadow is inspired by Mayan mythology, which is not written about very often but it really should be. From this book alone, I want to know more about the demons that lurk around the world and the different Gods. Moreno-Garcia links religion and mythology together seamlessly by showing the power of words and belief in what seems improbable. Life through the eyes of Casiopea changes from dull to vibrant through a simple Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Emma Knight Gods of Jade and Shadow is inspired by Mayan mythology, which is not written about very often but it really should be. From this book alone, I want to know more about the demons that lurk around the world and the different Gods. Moreno-Garcia links religion and mythology together seamlessly by showing the power of words and belief in what seems improbable. Life through the eyes of Casiopea changes from dull to vibrant through a simple prick of a finger after noticing a black chest in her grandfather’s bedchamber. This takes her on a journey past the borders of her confined small town to the world that is embracing a new revolution known as the roaring ’20s. Casiopea is a headstrong female with such curiosity that causes her to open a forgotten chest and reawakens death himself (just another Tuesday in Uukumil you know). Lord of Xibalba, God of Death, King of Shadows; who also prefers to be called Hun-Kamé, had been decapitated and put in a chest by his twin brother, Vucub-Kamé. The only chance he has to regain his throne is retrieving the missing parts of himself while trying not to become mortal while in the Middleworld. Casiopea has to follow him on the journey as a piece of his bone had been lodged into her finger when she opened the chest and he is the only person who can take it out unless she wants to cut her hand off. What a great way to start the day and a good excuse to leave the house… This journey takes them throughout Mexico and out of their comfort zones leading them to have to rely on each other. “Here lodges a shard of bone, a tiny part of me. Even now it provides nourishment. Every moment that passes, that nourishment, that life , flows out of you into me. You will be drained entirely, it shall kill you, unless I pull the bone out.” In a time where dresses and hairstyles are getting shorter and the dancing is getting quicker, Casiopea dreams of exploring the world on her own but is held back by her family. There is a great contrast between Casiopea’s relationship with her cousin, Martín, and the Hero twins. In both relationships, you can see the strain of rivalry and inadequacy when comparing them. It was great how the book changed the point of view between characters as you could see the motivation behind each persons actions and gave the book more depth. This book builds a world that is vibrant with life, rich in culture, and followed by haunting shadows that makes your spine tingle. Each character and each location is so beautifully constructed that you are completely immersed in this extraordinary book. You feel like you are with them every step of the way, not just watching from a distance. “The imagination of mortals shaped the gods, carving their faces and their myriad forms, just as the water molds the stones in its path, wearing them down through the centuries. Imagination had also fashioned the dwellings of the gods.” God of Jade and Shadow is a page-turner that immerses you in a forgotten culture and it is a coming-of-age story about finding what you want really want in the most unlikely of circumstances. Silvia Moreno-Garcia truly has a gift for writing that should be acknowledged more frequently as words have such a great power in this book as they transport both characters and readers into another world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    "Why I love it" by S. A. Chakraborty From the moment I spotted the phrase “the Mayan god of death in the Jazz Age,” I knew I needed to get my hands on Gods of Jade and Shadow. I’ve always been a fan of historical fantasy, and there’s little I love more than seeing ancient figures thrown into a more modern world. Add in a stunning cover, hints of a rags-to-riches protagonist, and a journey to the Underworld? I was sold. But this wondrously written book is so much more than that. The story follows "Why I love it" by S. A. Chakraborty From the moment I spotted the phrase “the Mayan god of death in the Jazz Age,” I knew I needed to get my hands on Gods of Jade and Shadow. I’ve always been a fan of historical fantasy, and there’s little I love more than seeing ancient figures thrown into a more modern world. Add in a stunning cover, hints of a rags-to-riches protagonist, and a journey to the Underworld? I was sold. But this wondrously written book is so much more than that. The story follows Casiopea Tun, who, in an attempt to escape her grandfather’s home, inadvertently links up with a Mayan god eager to take back his throne. Soon she finds herself on a death-defying adventure, and experiencing the equally terrifying prospect of first love. This is both a classic fairy tale—the mysterious box, the alluring figure offering the promise of a new beginning—and a fresh, coming-of-age journey that lets Casiopea be at once fierce and frightened, larger-than-life yet human. Casiopea leaps from the page, her hopes and dreams clashing with the life of servitude her power-hungry relatives have forced her into. With some of the best—and eerie!—imagery I’ve ever read and an ending that left me both hopeful and heartbroken, this is a book I’ll be gushing over for a very long time. Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/gods-of-ja...

  25. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    This was tremendous. A downtrodden girl in 20s Mexico inadvertently wakes the imprisoned Lord of the Dead and has to go on a quest to recover his missing body parts (this is the point we're glad it's fantasy not romance :P) in order for him to reclaim his throne. Wonderful defiant angry heroine, fabulous mythology and magic, really well drawn setting, a lovely villain whose evil lies in selfishness and privilege rather than innate badness, and a terrific thread of romance as well. It really is This was tremendous. A downtrodden girl in 20s Mexico inadvertently wakes the imprisoned Lord of the Dead and has to go on a quest to recover his missing body parts (this is the point we're glad it's fantasy not romance :P) in order for him to reclaim his throne. Wonderful defiant angry heroine, fabulous mythology and magic, really well drawn setting, a lovely villain whose evil lies in selfishness and privilege rather than innate badness, and a terrific thread of romance as well. It really is excellent. I enjoyed every word, was glued to the adventure, and found the ending immensely satisfying. Well written, well imagined, well constructed, what more do you want? And a fantastic cover. Would that all fantasy was this good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    Gods of Jade and Shadow is a fantasy story set in the 1920s. It follows Casiopea Tun, a young woman from a small town in Yucatán, as she travels through Mexico with Hun-Kamé, a Maya god. Hun-Kamé is trying to regain his throne as the god of death, but his closeness with Casiopea makes him more human every day; Casiopea is escaping her abusive and racist family for a free life, but being tied to the god of death might kill her. This is a journey book. One of the main things I look for in journey Gods of Jade and Shadow is a fantasy story set in the 1920s. It follows Casiopea Tun, a young woman from a small town in Yucatán, as she travels through Mexico with Hun-Kamé, a Maya god. Hun-Kamé is trying to regain his throne as the god of death, but his closeness with Casiopea makes him more human every day; Casiopea is escaping her abusive and racist family for a free life, but being tied to the god of death might kill her. This is a journey book. One of the main things I look for in journey books is atmosphere, and here it was amazing: from Uukumil to Mérida to Mexico City, I could visualize everything, and I always love reading fantasy novels that aren't set in a stereotyped Englishland. It's not like you can find books set in Mexico and based on Maya mythology every day, after all. However, the setting wasn't always enough to keep my attention, and if I had to point out what I struggled with the most while reading this book, I'd say that it was the fact that I couldn't get invested in the relationship between Casiopea and Hun-Kamé, even though I really liked them as individuals and also liked them as a couple as an idea. Something got lost in the execution, but as I'm not sure what that something is, I can't say if it's more on me or on the book. Also, I didn't need so many chapters following Martín. Every time I got to his chapters, I put the book down and started doing something else. I kind of get why they were there, but sometimes they felt redundant, and Martín was a combination of unlikable and uninteresting that never works well as a main character. As most of this novel is about Casiopea and Hun-Kamé going around Mexico and meeting various other paranormal creatures, some definitely less friendly than others, not getting really invested in them did make this journey not always that interesting to read about. But I can say that it was worth it, without a doubt - this book had one of the best endings I've read in a fantasy book this year, not because it was surprising, not really, but because it made sense in a way that made it powerful, it fit the story perfectly. It helps that I love when books go in that direction. Another thing I loved about this book? The level of detail that the author put into everything, from the setting to the characterization to the parts talking about history - I recognized myself in Casiopea at times, for what this book said about what it's like on a mental level to live in a strict Catholic environment and then finally leave, but what I really didn't expect was to recognize pieces of the story of my own (Italian) family. For example, the name Casiopea in itself. It's a Greek name, which her town's priest calls "Greek nonsense", and... I have several ancestors who were named after "Greek nonsense" themselves and who were born around the time Casiopea was born. I never thought I would see characters deliberately not giving their children names of saints in a fantasy book, but I guess the Catholic church being awful around the world also meant that people tried to do the same things around the world to defy it in their everyday life. I have more mixed feelings about the writing. Gods of Jade and Shadow is written in a way that should resemble a myth, but it didn't work for me. It felt more removed than the average fantasy book, but it didn't feel like a myth either, it felt like a halfway thing, and... I got used to it, but I can't say I liked it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mena

    I imagined an old, warm Mexican grandmother telling this story to me while we sat in the backyard gazing at the stars, because why not? It reads like a fairytale. It reads like a dream. The writing was simply beautiful: it flows like water and sparks the imagination like no other without being overly descriptive or purple. I like my female leads willful, and sensible and that is what I got in Casiopea. It is quite easy to draw the parallel with Cinderella at the beginning of the story, but the I imagined an old, warm Mexican grandmother telling this story to me while we sat in the backyard gazing at the stars, because why not? It reads like a fairytale. It reads like a dream. The writing was simply beautiful: it flows like water and sparks the imagination like no other without being overly descriptive or purple. I like my female leads willful, and sensible and that is what I got in Casiopea. It is quite easy to draw the parallel with Cinderella at the beginning of the story, but the comparison ends when she frees the death god and begins her adventure with him (which is basically at the beginning). An adventure that takes us from the small, drab town of Uukumil in Mexico to the bustling city of Merida, El Paso and unrestrained city of Tijuana. The ending couldn't be more perfect. Romantic love's great and all, but then there's also hopes and dreams and these aren't inherently connected. Probably the most realistic ending I've read in a while, and I think it would satisfy both the hopeless romantic and the realist.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    I was pretty excited for this because I especially loved Sylvia's last book, The Beautiful Ones. And then she's done really great Mexican settings in the two other books I've read by her as well! What I really liked here was the MC—Casiopea was the perfect character and I loved reading her wittiness in her dialogue and her remarks that she would give to Hun-Kamé. I seriously loved Hun-Kamé, too, especially as his character progressed in the book! The two together had such great chemistry! There I was pretty excited for this because I especially loved Sylvia's last book, The Beautiful Ones. And then she's done really great Mexican settings in the two other books I've read by her as well! What I really liked here was the MC—Casiopea was the perfect character and I loved reading her wittiness in her dialogue and her remarks that she would give to Hun-Kamé. I seriously loved Hun-Kamé, too, especially as his character progressed in the book! The two together had such great chemistry! There were several POVs in this one, but I really wish that it was only Casiopea and Hun-Kamé. I was kind of bored at times with Casiopea's cousin and Hun-Kamé's brother. Minor detail—but I felt like Casiopea's name had a lot of syllables so I had to keep shortening it to Cas in my head as I read it!  The writing and world descriptions were beautiful and the tale was very cool. Another complaint was I wish it ended on the chapter before the last one because I'm unsure if this is a stand alone, but I think it is? But with the last chapter, I'm not sure? Anyway, I love the authors other books more, but this is still a cool, original story to check out.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica {Litnoob}

    This book is actual magic and nobody can convince me otherwise. The author managed to take beautiful prose and never bogs us down with it while making the reader feel like we were on a long journey, caked with grainy dirty and jostled by the trains. The seamless blending of “modern” Latin American culture with the wisps of what was there before was everything. I won’t go into details of the story because spoilers but know this is a very character driven tale about finding yourself and your place This book is actual magic and nobody can convince me otherwise. The author managed to take beautiful prose and never bogs us down with it while making the reader feel like we were on a long journey, caked with grainy dirty and jostled by the trains. The seamless blending of “modern” Latin American culture with the wisps of what was there before was everything. I won’t go into details of the story because spoilers but know this is a very character driven tale about finding yourself and your place in the world, all while this world and the one beyond spin and plot for and against us.

  30. 5 out of 5

    ;3

    for a god of death he sure does have the personality of a sack of flour

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