Gods of Jade and Shadow
Genre: Adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
Publication date: July 23rd, 2019
by Del Rey
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
-A copy was provided by Del Rey for review-
It’s been a while since I finished Gods of Jade and Shadow and yet its managed to linger in my mind. I start every single review I’ve written this year of a fantasy book by stating that I’ve been struggling with fantasy lately but I don’t think that statement truly encompasses how much I’ve been struggling. Part of it is my mood but I think a huge part of it is that fantasy these days is just not the kind of fantasy I grew up loving? I love journeys and adventures through foreign lands. I love fantasies that have strong plots driving them forward. I love fantasies that are fairy-tale-esque.
When Casiopea’s father died, her mother and her were forced to move in with relatives. Of course, in exchange for their ‘generosity,’ Casiopea’s grandfather expects them to take on a large portion of the household chores and thinks it is perfectly acceptable to demean them. One day, Casiopea opens a chest she shouldn’t have, and finds that it contains a God. The God of Death to be precise. She ends up getting roped into a centuries old battle between two brothers (who happen to be Gods) and is forced onto a journey she was neither expecting nor asked for.
I am struggling with words right now and trying not to summarize this book but oh my god, I love this book so much. Several years ago, I read A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms which I adored and Gods of Jade and Shadow is reminiscent of it in all the best ways.
Casiopea cannot be cowed. Not by her horrible relatives who have mistreated her her entire life and not by the God of Death. She might not truly have a choice about accompanying Hun-Kame but she is out on a journey to embrace the world and find happiness. ANYWAY, I LOVE CASIOPEA. She is such a well-written and well-rounded and all the wells of the world character. I love the way her strength is portrayed. I love seeing her assimilate into a world she hasn’t had access to before. I love her excitement about the tiniest things. She isn’t just a cardboard ‘badass female lead,’ she has depth. She is scared, excited, nervous and also falling in love for the first time.
There is a romance and it is absolutely delightful. I love how much the romance is written as sort of Casiopea’s coming of age rather than something that happens by accident. It affords so much control to Casiopea who has had none before. Hun-Kame is also a delightful grump who I love with all my heart. These two kids work very well together.
The pacing of the plot is great and just right so that my attention did not drift as I was reading. I love that while they are on this journey to recover body parts and also take revenge, there is room for them to explore the world and come across things they hadn’t before. Casiopea trying new things, haircuts, styles in general is so much fun to witness. Mayan mythology is weaved throughout this book and the way it makes the world come to life was fantastic.
If I did a command + f right now, I’d probably come across a lot of repetition of certain adjectives but I am sorry, I just have a lot of love and excitement for this book and a very limited vocabulary. The Gods of Jade and Shadow is truly a delightful read and not one worth missing. 100/10 would recommend.