Book Reviews · creative writing · Historical Fiction · Writing

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow

I finished reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia a couple of weeks ago and never wrote anything about it, so here are my thoughts on it.

Synopsis

”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 Yucatan 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.”

What I Enjoyed the Most

  1. The Mayan mythology aspect–The author incorporated folklore into the narrative so flawlessly and even if it was only inspired by (not based on) Mayan mythology at least it’s a different narrative than the common fantasy YA I keep seeing on shelves. (It also reminded me of my current WIP, which is inspired by the mythology of a South American population). 
  2. The vivid descriptions– The streets of Mexico filled with color, music, and smells got me wishing I had lived in the 1920s. The dresses, food, and overall feel of the scenes were very well executed. I also loved learning more about some of the political and social issues that Mexico underwent in the 1920s; I think it added so much depth into the main narrative. 
  3. The ending, which I’ll keep to myself. 

Where it Left Me Wanting More

  1. The characters’ backstories. Although the author does provide some type of backstory, I felt they lacked in depth for every single character, including Casiopea. I wanted to know more of why they acted the way they did. Perhaps the character with the most detailed backstory was Martin, and he was a secondary character. This threw me off at times. 
  2. The number of characters with little importance throughout the book. There were a lot of characters that didn’t really add much to the narrative and I wondered why they were even there in the first place. 

Overall, I gave this book 3.5/5 stars (4 on Goodreads). 


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