Gods of Jade and Shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


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The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525620754
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/23/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 17,050
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Signal to Noise, named one of the best books of the year by BookRiot, Tordotcom, BuzzFeed, io9, and other publications; Certain Dark Things, one of NPR’s best books of the year, a Publishers Weekly top ten, and a VOYA “Perfect Ten”; the fantasy of manners The Beautiful Ones; and the science fiction novella Prime Meridian. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award winning She Walks in Shadows (aka Cthulhu’s Daughters). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

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. She was eighteen, penniless, and had grown up in Uukumil, a drab town where mule-­drawn railcars stopped twice a week and the sun scorched out dreams. She was reasonable enough to recognize that many other young women lived in equally drab, equally small towns. However, she doubted that many other young women had to endure the living hell that was her daily life in grandfather Cirilo Leyva’s house.

Cirilo was a bitter man, with more poison in his shriveled body than was in the stinger of a white scorpion. Casiopea tended to him. She served his meals, ironed his clothes, and combed his sparse hair. When the old brute, who still had enough strength to beat her over the head with his cane when it pleased him, was not yelling for his grandchild to fetch him a glass of water or his slippers, her aunts and cousins were telling Casiopea to do the laundry, scrub the floors, and dust the living room.

“Do as they ask; we wouldn’t want them to say we are spongers,” Casiopea’s mother told her. Casiopea swallowed her angry reply because it made no sense to discuss her mistreatment with Mother, whose solution to every problem was to pray to God.

Casiopea, who had prayed at the age of ten for her cousin Martín to go off and live in another town, far from her, understood by now that God, if he existed, did not give a damn about her. What had God done for Casiopea, aside from taking her father from her? That quiet, patient clerk with a love for poetry, a fascination with Mayan and Greek mythology, a knack for bedtime stories. A man whose heart gave up one morning, like a poorly wound clock. His death sent Casiopea and her mother packing back to Grandfather’s house. Mother’s family had been charitable, if one’s definition of charity is that they were put immediately to work while their idle relatives twiddled their thumbs.

Had Casiopea possessed her father’s pronounced romantic leanings, perhaps she might have seen herself as a Cinderella-­like figure. But although she treasured his old books, the skeletal remains of his collection—­especially the sonnets by Quevedo, wells of sentiment for a young heart—­she had decided it would be nonsense to configure herself into a tragic heroine. Instead, she chose to focus on more pragmatic issues, mainly that her horrible grandfather, despite his constant yelling, had promised that upon his passing Casiopea would be the beneficiary of a modest sum of money, enough that it might allow her to move to Mérida.

The atlas showed her the distance from the town to the city. She measured it with the tips of her fingers. One day.

In the meantime, Casiopea lived in Cirilo’s house. She rose early and committed to her chores, tight-­lipped, like a soldier on a campaign.

That afternoon she had been entrusted with the scrubbing of the hallway floor. She did not mind, because it allowed her to keep abreast of her grandfather’s condition. Cirilo was doing poorly; they did not think he’d make it past the autumn. The doctor had come to pay him a visit and was talking to her aunts. Their voices drifted into the hall from the nearby living room, the clinking of dainty china cups punctuating one word here and another there. Casiopea moved her brush against the red tiles, attempting to follow the conversation—­expecting to be informed of anything that went on in the house in any other way was ridiculous; they never bothered talking to her except to bark orders—­until two shiny boots stopped in front of her bucket. She did not have to look up to know it was Martín. She recognized his shoes.

Martín was a youthful copy of their grandfather. He was square-­shouldered, robust, with thick, strong hands that delivered a massive blow. She delighted in thinking that when he grew old, he would also become an ugly, liver-­spotted wretch without teeth, like Cirilo.

“There you are. My mother is going crazy looking for you,” he said. He looked away when he spoke.

“What is it?” she asked, resting her hands against her skirt.

“She says you are to go to the butcher. The silly codger demands a good cut of beef for supper. While you’re out, get me my cigarettes.”

Casiopea stood up. “I’ll go change.”

Casiopea wore no shoes and no stockings and a frayed brown skirt. Her mother emphasized neatness in person and dress, but Casiopea didn’t believe there was much point in fretting about the hem of her clothes when she was waxing floors or dusting rooms. Still, she must don a clean skirt if she was heading out.

“Change? Why? It’ll be a waste of time. Go right away.”

“Martín, I can’t go out—­”

“Go as you are, I said,” he replied.

Casiopea eyed Martín and considered defying him, but she was practical. If she insisted on changing, then Martín would give her a good smack and she would accomplish nothing except wasting her time. Sometimes Martín could be reasoned with, or at least tricked into changing his mind, but she could tell by his sanguine expression that he’d had a row with someone and was taking it out on her.

“Fine,” she said.

He looked disappointed. He’d wanted a scuffle. She smiled when he handed her the money she needed to run the errands. He looked so put off by that smile, she thought for a moment he was going to slap her for no reason. Casiopea left the house in her dirty skirt, without even bothering to wrap a shawl around her head.

In 1922 Governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto had said women could now vote, but by 1924 he’d faced a firing squad—­which is exactly what you’d expect to happen to governors who go around delivering speeches in Mayan and then don’t align themselves with the correct people in power—­and they’d revoked that privilege. Not that this ever mattered in Uukumil. It was 1927, but it might as well have been 1807. The revolution passed through it, yet it remained what it had been. A town with nothing of note, except for a modest sascab quarry; the white powder shoveled out was used for dirt roads. Oh, there had been a henequen plantation nearby once upon a time, but she knew little about it; her grandfather was no hacendado. His money, as far as Casiopea could tell, came from the buildings he owned in Mérida. He also muttered about gold, although that was likely more talk than anything else.

So, while women in other parts of the world cut their hair daringly short and danced the Charleston, Uukumil was the kind of place where Casiopea might be chided if she walked around town without her shawl wrapping her head.

The country was supposed to be secularist after the revolution, something that sounded fine when it was printed as a decree, but was harder to enforce once push came to shove. Cristero rebellions bubbled down the center of Mexico whenever the government tried to restrict religious activity. That February in Jalisco and Guanjuato all priests had been detained for inciting people to rise against the anti-­Catholic measures promoted by the president. Yet Yucatán was tolerant of the Cristeros, and it had not flamed up like other states. Yucatán had always been a world apart, an island, even if the atlas assured Casiopea she lived on a verdant peninsula.

No wonder in lazy Uukumil everyone held to the old ways. No wonder, either, that their priest grew more overzealous, intent on preserving morality and the Catholic faith. He eyed every woman in town with suspicion. Each diminutive infraction to decency and virtue was catalogued. Women were meant to bear the brunt of inquiries because they descended from Eve, who had been weak and sinned, eating from the juicy, forbidden apple.

If the priest saw Casiopea he would drag her back to her house, but if he did, what of it? It was not as if the priest would strike her any harder than Martín would, and her stupid cousin had given her no chance to tidy herself.

Casiopea slowly walked to the town square, which was dominated by the church. She must follow Martín’s orders, but she would take her time doing so. She glanced at the businesses bunched under the square’s high arcades. They had a druggist, a haberdasher, a physician. She realized this was more than other towns could claim, and still she couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied. Her father had been from Mérida and had whisked her mother off to the city, where Casiopea was born. She thought she belonged there. Or, anywhere else, for that matter. Her hands were hard and ugly from beating the laundry against the stone lavadero, but her mind had the worst of it. She yearned for a sliver of freedom.

Somewhere, far from the bothersome grandfather and impertinent coterie of relatives, there would be sleek automobiles (she wished to drive one), daring pretty dresses (which she’d spotted in newspapers), dances (the faster, the better), and a view of the Pacific sea at night (she knew it courtesy of a stolen postcard). She had cut out photos of all these items and placed them under her pillow, and when she dreamed, she dreamed of night swimming, of dresses with sequins, and a clear, starlit sky.

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Gods of Jade and Shadow: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
ElleRudy 3 months ago
It's interesting to consider how little Mayan, Aztec or other native 'American' mythology is present in mainstream US culture compared to, say, Greek mythology. This especially considering our proximity to these cultures vs Europe and the rest of the world. Maybe that's evidence of our Euro-centrism left over from colonialism, but I'm glad that's changing as time goes by. This book had a fun mix of fantasy-adventure, magical folklore, historical context (Mexico, 1920s) and a daring female protagonist who forms a bond with the God of Death. Sometimes it's easy to forget how much social mobility has changed over time and varies in different regions of the world. Casiopea has very few options before (unwittingly) falling into the service of a previously imprisoned god who must go on a quest to retrieve parts of himself stolen by an evil-er sibling. Even though she was forced(!) upon threat of death(!!) to help this god reclaim himself, they eventually form a bond which came off like a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, but whatever, maybe he was unbearably dreamy. I also definitely read the title as Gods of *Shade* and Shadow for the first half of the book and imagined the demons and gods being super passive-aggressive to each other. Moreno-Garcia is wonderfully descriptive and creates a lush world for readers to step into. The story was compelling and I really appreciated the characters' interactions with one another. I think a lot of people will enjoy this book!
Anonymous 4 months ago
awesome mythology that could be real. great storytelling at it's best.
Take_Me_AwayPH 21 days ago
Another time that I've been made to want to read something because of the beautiful cover. And this time the inside was almost just as good. Not something I'm used to reading, but that's what made it all the more better in my eyes. Casiopea has been treated badly by so many people in her life that the only thing she can think about now is getting away. But one night she finds a box with a mysterious set of bones in it and she accidentally frees they Mayan god of death. In the beginning this story was super strong. But as it got to the middle it started moving SO. SLOW. It started out so promising, but then it just seemed like it was being filled with fluff so it could take the attention away from the plot not moving. I realized that was why it took me so long to read this. I got bored a couple times and wanted to skim but I wouldn't let myself do it But the writing style in this was amazing. I wrote down SO MANY chunks of text while reading. I can honestly say I almost took down the entire book. It was filled with beautiful prose and lush world-building, and yet it was still easy to read. I really liked the characters though. Casiopea and the god of Death, I shipped them from their first scene together. I remember asking if it was too soon for me to ship them early on in the book. And I really liked the way she portrayed the god of Death. He was terrible, but not so much. He seemed to be the right amount of bad? I don't know how to explain it. He just worked. Is it weird to say I thought of him as a book boyfriend? lol This book wasn't my normal read, but definitely worth it in the end. I really enjoyed this and though it got slow in the middle, I liked the way she ended it by leaving room for something else to happen like a spin-off or something. Definitely an author I will watch for in the future.
USOM 3 months ago
Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This does not impact my review which is honest and unbiased. Gods of Jade and Shadow is a story of gods, sacrifices, and freedom. Grounded in a setting that will transport you to prohibition, flappers, and the way change can be slow to come by. What is the most relatable to Casiopea is her indomitable spirit, her yearning for change, and her patience. Mixed with fairy tale themes, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a story not only about her encounter with gods of her own, but also her quest to find her own future. Casiopea lives in a country on the brink of change, a moment between trends, religions, and culture. Feeling like she does not belong with her family, and sorely mistreated by them, Casiopea has never fit in. And her future has always been uncertain, whether it existed at the whims of her family or based on the fate of a god's quest for revenge. Gods of Jade and Shadow is a story about power, mercy, and forgiveness.
Anonymous 3 months ago
really enjoyed learning and discovering a fresh coming of age story. very vivid, rich story
Anonymous 3 months ago
It was a magnificent read.
HollyLovesBooks4 3 months ago
I love the dark, historical fiction background of this story based on the Mayan mythology. Stories that come from a unique perspective, with a different culture and a story that is compelling. This book does all of these things. And that cover is gorgeous. Recommend. #GodsofJadeandShadow #NetGalley #RandomHousePublishingHouseBallantine #DelRey
Anonymous 4 months ago
Loved it
Cyn_Ayala23 4 months ago
Gods of Jade and Shadow is a beautiful novel and excellent take on the fairy-tale tropes. Casiopea is much like Cinderella, a servant to her family who does not think much of her. However, she is no Cinderella, not really. Casiopea is a compelling character, a character who dreams and obeys but offers silent ways of disobeying those who vilify her. Following her journey, Casiopea opens up, and there is vulnerability to her as the story develops, making her a well-rounded and relatable character. She is a balanced character, feisty and outspoken yet poised as well. Casiopea has a formidable voice, but internally and externally as she drives the story forward, she grows as a character and discovers truths about herself and the world around her. Other than Casiopea, the story offers a complex narrative regarding Martin. Martin is at first, wholly unlikable, portrayed as the villain, but he is more complicated than that, and as a character, he grows through his trials. He is a perfect foil for Casiopea, and the dichotomy between the characters gives the novel a rich representation to it. The story itself is also as engaging as the characterization. Set during the Jazz Age, the language and color of the time trickle in through the story, growing the more Casiopea travels. This evolution of music and time goes hand in hand with her self-discovery and works to track the voyage of the characters. It has vivid color to it, both to the language used and the description of the scenes. The reader can imagine the world effortlessly as Garcia captures this historical piece of Mexico with beauty. However, the added effect of the Mayan history, the mythology to it, gives the story a fresh feel to it. It makes the novel unique as it spins this story to life, following the characters along their respective journeys. Culturally appropriate, this novel captures the heart of Mexico and its history.
MugsyMae 4 months ago
When I was young, my mother and grandmothers would read fairy tales to me and tell me stories of folklore from far away places. Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Gods of Jade and Shadow brought back those memories with her fabulous telling of a fairy tail based on Mayan folklore. It was just as wonderful as the stories I heard as a youngster, and I loved it! I want more!
StephanieNP 4 months ago
A perfect blend of literary, historical and above all, fantasy in this fantastic novel that had me up like a little girl with a flashlight under her sheets until the wee hours until my journey with Casiopea had ended. In precise, beautiful and detailed prose Moreno-Garcia transports you into the worlds of gods of the Underworld, Mexican cities, the Jazz Age, the heart and sharp mind of a young girl navigating her own fate. Never could I imagine an Underworld so beautiful yet grim, the elements of earth so basic but yielding star-like power. Take this journey for an adventure scripted for the gods, for the love hidden in its layers. I read with the wonder of a kid again, but the adult world intact in its complexity.
Amy Smith Carman 5 months ago
Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia Pages: 352 Release Date: July 23, 2019 Genre: Fiction, Mythical Series or Stand-Alone: Stand alone Stars: 4 of 5 People of Color?: Yes! LGBTQ?: No Pass the Bechdel Test? (Strong Women): Definitely Trigger Warning: Some violence but nothing excessive. Some gender violence (Martin threatens to hit Casiopea at several different points for not following his demands) I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I loved the premise of this story. Casiopea is a poor teenager who lives as a servant but dreams of the stars, adventure, and freedom. The jazz age has reached even the Yucatan, but Casiopea must watch from the sidelines. Though she lives with family, she and her mother are treated as servants because of her deceased father. Her grandfather and her cousin Martin treat her terribly and she is often slapped or punished for disobeying their demands. Her spirit refuses to bend. One day, she opens a trunk and finds the bones of the god of death. Everything changes for her. She and the Mayan god of death start off on a series of quests to retrieve missing body parts that his traitorous twin brother has spread across Mexico. As the two travel together, Casiopea becomes more god-like and the god becomes more human. The author weaves Mexican and Mayan myths together than make a fantastic adventure. I learned so much about the Yucatan and Mexico City in the 1920s. I had to keep looking up facts because it was so fun to piece together a gap in my knowledge. Likes: I had a hard time guessing how the book would end and the folklore made every character interesting and unique. I also liked Casiopea and the desire for Life that was very relatable. Recommendations: Little cursing/violence/sex, so suitable for teens and up. I would recommend it for those who like folklore inspired stories (The Bear and the Nightingale, for instance) as well as fiction in general.
xxjenadanxx 5 months ago
This book was beautifully written. Combining ancient Mayan deities and the Roaring 20's shouldn't work, but it does. An act of reckless desperation leaves Casiopea tethered to Hun-Kame, the Lord of Death. They set out on a quest to regain what has been taken from him by his brother, and to reclaim his throne. Each day he grows a little bit stronger but also a little bit more human, and in doing so is slowly draining Casiopea of her life. Even so, as her body grows weaker she becomes stronger and more determined in her hopes and dreams. This is a journey of self discovery and love and magic and possibility.
Kamisha 5 months ago
This book was absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out, and I enjoyed reading every minute of it! Silvia’s storytelling skills are always impressive and I always end up being drawn in by her settings, characters and plots. Gods of Jade and Shadow felt like reading a fairy tale or an epic mythological journey, but set in the Jazz Age of Mexico, which was just so unique and fun to read about. I loved learning about Mayan mythology and this book has made me even more interested to learn more about Mayan myths and legends. I especially loved the characters in this story. The protagonists were people I truly wanted to root for, and the antagonists were both cruel and relatable at the same time. Casiopea is one of my favorite characters, and we really see her grow so much in this story, she goes from being a girl with dreams to embracing her independence and recognizing her own strength. I just felt so much for her and all of her pithy, tactless responses throughout the story! I also really loved the way the two Lords of Xibalba, Hun-Kame and Vucub-Kame, were portrayed and overall the entire mythological cast and setting. All of the descriptions of the underworld of Xibabla and its denizens really made me feel like I was journeying there with Casiopea and her cousin, Martin. Gods of Jade and Shadow was an amazing story and I would definitely recommend it to everyone! Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
diane92345 5 months ago
A mighty quest awaits young Casiopea when she links up with the Mayan god of death in Gods of Jade and Shadow. Casiopea is an eighteen-year-old girl in rural Mexico in the 1920s. After bleeding on a bunch of bones in a chest, she awakens Hun-Kame, the Mayan god of death. They embark on a quest to retrieve the god’s missing bones and defeat his evil brother so he can take his rightful place as king of the underworld. I adored this historical fiction fairy tale of quests, fate, and magical realism. If any of those themes resonate with you, pick up a copy of Gods of Jade and Shadow. You won’t be sorry. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars! Thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Received a copy of this early via NetGalley and am very glad I did. I've enjoyed everything else I've read from Moreno-Garcia in the past, and so I was really happy to get a chance to try out her newest work as every piece of her writing has used settings and characters that are not only fresh and exciting, but based upon heritages and customs with which I'm not used to usually seeing in SF/F works. Gods of Jade and Shadow is absolutely no exception, with it using Mayan myths as the foundation of its story: the journey of a young woman with a Mayan death god to regain what the god has lost in the battle with the god's younger brother. In a very general sense, the story follows a very typical structure, but the book's Mayan setting twists that structure into less familiar and often fascinating ways, with a conclusion that totally took me by surprise and yet works completely. And with its major characters being both incredibly well done, its minor characters being very solid and done in surprising ways at times, and an ending that is surprising but still makes total sense - and yet very unlike much of what I've seen before, yeah I really enjoyed this book. In short, the Mayan-myth based setting, excellent characters, and surprising yet satisfying plot make Gods of Jade and Shadow a clear winner, and a definite recommendation.
Persephonereads 5 months ago
5 out of 5 stars I want to thank netgalley and Del Rey books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of the book for an honest review. This is a lovely fairy tale/fantasy that takes place in the 1920's. When we first meet Casiopea Tun she is living with her Mother in her Grandfather's estate. Since her Father Casiopea has basically spent her life as a slave for her Grandfather and her mean cousin her resents her. She dreams of someday leaving. Setting out for an adventure in the great big world but her reality is that she spends much of her time scrubbing floors and polishing shoes. One day Casiopea is banned from going on a visit with her family she finds a chest. Though she always tries to be good she can't stop herself from wanting to open the mysterious chest. Perhaps her Grandfather keeps coins there and even though she is honest she is also desperate to get out of the life she is living. Maybe she could grab a few coins and hide them away for her escape fund? When she opens the chest she discovers something much more different than she was expecting. She discovers that the chest is full of bones. After she pricks her finger with a bone something happens. A form begins to solidify in front of her. It is the dethroned God of Death Hun-Kamé who promises her freedom and anything else her heart desires if she helps him find his missing pieces. It's not like she can say no to him though as a piece of his bone is lodged in her finger and as he lives she begins to die. As Casiopea and Hun-Kamé on their journey they begin to form and interesting relationship. With her cousin trailing behind her working for Hun-Kamé's brother (the one that imprisoned him) she knows she must fight an battle for both of Casiopea and Hun-Kamé's life. This story is unique and lovely. Definitely the kin of book you really want to get lost in.
TheBakersBooks 5 months ago
Gods of Jade and Shadow is a coming-of-age story wrapped in Jazz Age glamour and Mayan myth. I relished every second of this book! I'm a fan of atmospheric writing and prose that makes good use of few words. Moreno-Garcia delivered both, along with an inspired premise, unique worldbuilding, and much-appreciated commentary on matters like sexism and colorism. Above all, though, it was her characters that made this one of my favorite books of the year. Casiopea especially represented so many things I love in a protagonist: bravery, assertiveness, and unshakeable kindness. I highly recommend Gods of Jade and Shadow to readers who love mythology and folk tales!
yaratrv 5 months ago
This book gets ALL the stars! It was impossible to put down, it was so good! The characters come alive on the page. The descriptions are both realistic and magical. I learned more about Mayan mythology than I ever could’ve of imagined in a fun almost interactive way (I felt like I was there watching everything unfold). I highly recommend this one.
EmMaxwell 5 months ago
The publisher category for this book is fairy tale, but it's so much more than that. It's a historical novel, taking place in the 1920s, when Frida Kahlo would have been the same age as our heroine. It's an homage to Mexican literature: a book written in English that has the cadences of translated Spanish; it's a portal into myth—in fact, it's a portal story, where our heroine Casiopea Tun is drawn into the quest of a god, the Lord of Death. You might also describe it as Coco for grownups; it's a journey into Mexica cosmology. Casiopea starts out as a Cinderella character and then she frees the Lord of Death from prison and goes on the hero's journey to help him reclaim his throne. The book succeeds on all those levels: a romance with a touch of the picaresque, a tragicomedy, a mythic journey. Casiopea faces demons and desires and learns the truth of herself. The story moves quickly, and it moves your heart. I loved it. Moreno-Garcia has made an exquisite jewel of a book; most people are going to appreciate it on the Coco level, and that's fine—what a gift all the other levels are, to those already familiar with mestizo culture. In these days of making old things new again, the stories of our ancestors become refleshed in modern attire; the art of the storyteller is to birth new meaning from the same old stories, for the core lessons of the human story remain the same, like human nature. The storyteller leaves us having introduced change into the divine realms and leaves us with the unchanged ancient wisdom: life on earth is a gift to be savored and cherished, for it is sweet and good. Nevertheless, this goodness is borne from suffering, blood, and sacrifice; a true person makes her choices knowing that one day she may be the one who bleeds, the one who sacrifices. The birth will still be worth it. **(I received a digital advance copy from Netgalley and Del Rey for review; it was worth the migraine, and I'll be purchasing the book to reread. Huge fan!)
469480 5 months ago
I read this book in 4 days (finishing it after midnight on the 5th morning)! I was that engrossed in this story that reminded me of both Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Márquez with story elements similar to both Rick Riordan and Katherine Arden. "Gods of Jade and Shadow" is a beautiful blend of history, culture, and mythology. Anyone who is a fan of standalone works such as "The Wolf in the Whale" and "The Sisters of the Winter Wood" will love this book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Casiopea Tun is the granddaughter of Cirilo Leyva, the wealthiest man in town, but you wouldn’t know it based on her appearance and her demeanor. All the while, Casiopea’s cousin, Martín—who is also Cirilo’s only grandson and 2 years older than Casiopea—entertains himself by bullying Casiopea. Unlike Casiopea—who is pragmatic, yet hopeful—Martín is the traditional spoiled heir who has nothing else going for him except for his family name and the wealth that comes with it. When Casiopea opens a mysterious chest under her grandfather’s bed with the key he left behind, she finds a pile of bones that revive into Hun-Kame, Lord of Shadows and rightful ruler of Xibalba, the Mayan Underworld. Casiopea learns that Hun-Kame was betrayed and imprisoned by Vucub-Kame, his twin brother. Immediately, Casiopea is traveling with the god in order to locate his missing essences and to help him regain his throne. The plot is part folklore and part bildungsroman. The folklore aspect of the plot follows the Hero’s Quest in that Casiopea leaves her home and goes on a “divine” quest. The bildungsroman, or coming-or-age story, Casiopea's growth into adulthood. The setting is Mexico in 1927 (during The Jazz Age) and readers can pull up a map of Mexico and follow the journey of the characters throughout the narrative. Each location throughout the story elaborates the clothing, the music, and the hustle and bustle of Mexico. The author does an amazing job explaining Mayan mythology, Mexican culture and history, and pop culture, she mentions both fairy tales and poetry as cautionary tales to staying pragmatic no matter what is occurring in your life. "Gods of Jade and Shadow" is an informative and entertaining story about change, tradition, desire, and family. . Silvia Moreno-Garcia conducts a grim, but magical journey throughout Mexico while reintroducing what we forgotten from our world history class. This novel is one of the best stories that balance fantasy and reality in recent years.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Gods of Jade and Shadow is the story of a young woman, a poor relation to a well-to-do family, and her journey across both Jazz Age Mexico and the Mayan underworld with the handsome and fearsome God of Death. Casiopea has long yearned for an escape from her life of drudgery in her grandfather’s home, where she is not much more than an unpaid servant. One day, after being denied a chance to take part in a family outing, she opens a mysterious box and accidentally releases the Mayan God of Death from captivity. He convinces her to assist him in his quest to regain his throne from his duplicitous brother before time runs out. This is a fairy tale/historical/fantasy/adventure novel of the highest order. Moreno-Garcia has a deft touch with description – frenetic, overwhelming !920s Mexico City comes alive as does mysterious, darkly beautiful and horrible Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. Her characters are finely drawn, as well, with understandable motivations, even when they’re in the wrong. It’s a beautiful story and I am so delighted to have had the chance to read and learn about a time and culture I know so little about.
thegeekishbrunette 5 months ago
I was really excited to dive into this book because of its take on Mexican folklore. It is an uncommon one to be written about. It also being in the Jazz Age was another plus for me! If those two things haven't convinced you then look at that gorgeous cover! The colors are everything. The plot, of course, is full of Mexican folklore that weaves itself into a unique and attention grabbing fantasy. The main character, Casiopea, is on a quest to help the god of death take back his throne from his brother. Casiopea is far from being a pushover and even when certain circumstances arise with Hun-Kamé (god of death), she still holds her ground and does it the way she wants to. I loved her character and the attitude she brought along with teaching him a thing or two about human emotions. As for Hun-Kamé, he is stubborn, hard-headed, and sometimes just doesn't get it. I mean, he is a a god after all. He grows on you throughout the course of the book and I loved his character development. The romance in this book was one that I found myself enjoying because it didn't just occur out of the blue. There was build-up and that is something I tend to need to make it more believable. Overall, I enjoyed this book and hope others will enjoy it as much as I have! If you are a fan of folklore, definitely check this one out! earc provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
CaptainsQuarters 5 months ago
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . I fell in love with Moreno-Garcia's work because of her stellar vampire novel, certain dark things.  So I was very much looking forward to this Mayan fairy-tale set during the Jazz age in Mexico.  And this book was absolutely wonderful. I have to admit that I have very little knowledge of Mayan history and culture outside of the bare basics from me trip to Mexico when I was in me early teens.  That was a long time ago and facts fall out of me noggin.  So this book was a delightful foray into Mayan folklore.  I was often looking up places, names, and words while reading to enrich me understanding of what I was reading about.  These diversions did not cause me to lose the grip or flow of the storytelling.  Rather it intensified the enjoyment. Part of this was the languorous journey of the plot.  The story had the feeling of reading an older historical saga in terms of style.  The plot was not full of heady action or serious psychological studies.  Instead it was very much showing the individual journey of Casiopea Tun and how she handles the quest she finds herself on. Casiopea has always longed to get away from the house of her tyrannical, rich grandfather and have a life of her own somewhere else.  She has secret dreams of riding in an automobile, dancing the night away, and swimming in the sea.  These wishes are held close-to-heart and never spoken aloud.  But Casiopea's upbringing is at odds with her rebellious, curious nature.  That curious nature is what leads her to inadvertently release a captive Mayan Death God and change the trajectory of her life. I absolutely loved Casiopea and the Death God, Hun-Kamé.  There was no predictability in terms of their journey or relationship.  Casiopea truly felt like a real girl thrown into an extraordinary situation.  She has no real magic but that of her inner strength as a person and her moral compass.  The change in the relationship between Casiopea and Hun-Kamé was subtle and yet absolutely compelling.  I loved how the magic worked between them. The writing style was once again lyrical and beautiful and unique.  It is a story that feels a bit unreal and as a reader I was both engaged and somewhat unattached like I was floating over the story watching from afar.  And yet I was also very much concerned with Casiopea's circumstances and how the story would pan out. This weird dichotomy only served to intensify the feelings that I was experiencing a fairy tale in a world way outside of me own.  I very much enjoyed reading another fairy tale based on a culture that is completely unfamiliar and yet absolutely human in its experiences and feelings that arise from following Casiopea's story. This is also a book that for me had the perfect ending.  Hopeful and tragic and magical and yet somehow completely realistic.  Seriously I need to pick up all of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's work.  She floats me boat. So lastly . . . Thank you Random House!