Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore, for readers of The Song of Achilles and Uprooted.
Here we shall begin to tell a story: a tale of a throne lost, of monsters and magic. A tale of gods and of the shadow realm. But this, our story, it begins in our world, in the land of mortals.
It begins with a woman. For this story, it is her story. It begins with her.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.
I will always jump at the opportunity to read fantasy in a mythos I’m unfamiliar with, so when my fiance showed me this title, I didn’t hesitate to pre-order.
Gods of Jade and Shadow is everything you want in a fairy tale – a downtrodden heroine striving for a better life and an enchanting adventure that tries her conviction and mettle. I love fairy tales, having grown up with all the Disney princesses, and I have to say all those heroines have absolutely nothing on Casiopea Tun. She reminds me a bit of Cinderella, though. Generally good-natured and maybe a little passive, what makes her strong is her ability to survive and withstand whatever the world throws at her – be it an abusive family or the Mayan god of Death asking her for everything she can give. Casiopea’s quiet strength is sometimes all she and her companion have, to the point where she’s the one saving him on more than one occasion.
And – if you know me – you’ll know I’m also a sucker for the broody prince archetype, a description that snugly fits around Hun-kame, the Mayan god of Death and Casiopea’s companion throughout her adventure. His evolution at the hands of their connection is a compelling one, and I loved the way their friendship flourishes. Although I keep calling this a fairy tale, and there is some romance, it’s not the typical kind you’d expect, and as far from cliche as one can get.
The story itself just draws the reader in, and one of the more interesting parts of the writing is the way the writer sets each scene, and how the descriptions immerse you in the world until you can picture not just 1920s Mexico, but even Xibalba.
I can’t wait to read more by this writer, as I’m always looking for stories by underrepresented populations in fantasy and sci-fi. Much like Spin the Dawn, Gods of Jade and Shadow was a breath of fresh air that exposed me to a whole new mythology I’d never read before, but will now eagerly seek.