“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.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
Short take: Gods of Jade and Shadow is easily one of the most captivating books I have ever read. I thoroughly enjoyed this entire book; there wasn’t one instance where I was bored by the story or the writing. Below are some thoughts I had while reading.
I was a little intimated at first by all the references to Mayan mythology. I thought it would be difficult to keep track of all the names of different gods and each of their backstories, but it really wasn’t an overload of information; what was necessary to the story was revealed slowly and it all fit together in an easy to follow way. I can’t quite explain what it was about this book that was so perfect, but I think it comes from the fact that the storytelling was so effortless.
Casiopea is such a strong and memorable character. From the moment she opens the box in her grandfather’s bedroom, her fate is intertwined with Hun-Kame, who is definitely “strangely alluring” as the synopsis suggests! Not quite a mortal man, not quite a god, you get the idea. Despite their differences, they have to work together to navigate their way through all manner of demons, ghosts and monsters as they try to reunite him with what he has lost, so that he can ultimately take the throne back from his brother. Some of these creatures they encounter are downright disturbing so, fair warning to anyone who might be squeamish about aggressive otherworldly beings and/or blood and gore.
Even though I didn’t like Casiopea’s awful cousin, Martin, I was ultimately glad that he was included in the entire story. I ended up really liking the chapters that alternated with his point of view. His character grew so much over the course of the story, as did Casiopea. I also wanted to mention that I absolutely loved the dialogue in this book. It was very precise and unique to each character and it felt like I was reading an old work of literature, if that makes sense. It only added to my sense that this book is very special and unique in the best way!
I think that readers who enjoy quest-type adventure stories, or stories that involve mythology, will definitely love this book. However, I am not especially one to seek out those types of books and I loved it just the same. Based on Gods of Jade and Shadow, I will definitely be reading more of Moreno-Garcia’s work in the future!