ARC Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 23rd 2019
**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not influence my review**

      “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.”

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With Gods of Jade and Shadow Silvia Morena-Garcia proves once again that she is a master at storytelling with this Mayan-inspired fantasy. In the dreary town of Uukumil in southern Mexico, Casiopea Tun toils away her youth, treated more as a servant than family to her affluent but ailing grandfather. The other members of her family look down upon her for her Indigenous heritage and those like her cousin Martín do not even consider her to be a real member of the Leyva family. Though she dreams of leaving and experiencing all the revels to be had during the 1920s, she has all but accepted this as her lot in life. Until one day when she opens a mysterious box, unleashing an imprisoned God and accidentally binding herself to him. Casiopea has no choice but to follow Hun-Kamé as he recovers missing pieces of himself hidden by his brother in a quest to regain the throne of Xibalba.

Moreno-Garcia draws from Mayan folklore to build the bones of Gods of Jade and Shadow. Hun-Kamé and his twin brother Vucub-Kamé have been locked in a battle of wills for centuries. The former was content to accept the Gods’ diminished role and growing indifference from mortals while Vucub-Kamé wishes to usher in a new era of adulation and sacrifice. The Gods’ power is irrevocably tied to the worship of mortals. Though they yield a great deal of influence, I found it really interesting that in this world mortals were given more freedom. Though a God cannot change fate, mortals have the autonomy to change their fate, making them unpredictable pieces in a game of chess.

Moreno-Garcia pays equal attention to both the mortal and immortal worlds. Readers are taken on a journey across Mexico and into the very heart of the Underworld known as Xibalba. Mexico City is both dazzling and overwhelming, having profited off the U.S.’s prohibition era. Here there is music and dancing and a celebration of life. Xibalba, though the land belongs to the dead, is subtle in its allure. Dangerous and misleading, but dark and mysterious. Through Hun-Kamé’s eyes, Casiopea begins to see that Xibalba is a place of beauty, despite its nefarious creatures, and a home to those who were born there.

Casiopea is a protagonist I grew fond of rather quickly. Though she longs for another life she isn’t consumed by her fantastical daydreams. She is too practical to drown in the sorrow of her insipid life. Though she has been treated as a servant and expects to give deference to the more prominent members of her family, Casiopea is stubborn and willful, defiant in the face of those with more power than her. This makes for an interesting dynamic with the haughty God Hun-Kamé, who expects obedience. Their bond chips away at Casiopea’s strength, but also makes Hun-Kamé more human with each passing day. Their relationship is slow to develop, subtle yet beautiful.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow is a quiet, yet intoxicating fantasy with delicate prose and a satisfyingly, yet bittersweet romance.


31 thoughts on “ARC Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  1. Wonderful review!✨📚 Yay for more Latinx rep, especially in historical fantasy (this makes me so happy!)!! I can’t wait to read this one!!! I love reading about Mayan folklore too & I’m really looking forward to exploring it more in this book! 😍💞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review. I love reading about different cultures and this book sounds amazing. Especially if the characters are well rounded. I cannot wait to read this and see what I think! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All I could think when I was reading your review is that this sounds like a cross over between Cinderella and American Gods. Have you read Gaiman’s book? In it, the old gods are losing popularity with mortals, and they completely rely on being worshiped for survival. The new gods, such as TV and consumerism, are replacing the old gods people used to praise, so the battle is on! They all walk the Earth like humans, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing that I really like about the protagonist is that she resists the Cinderella image. She doesn’t daydream or wish her life was different. She is too practical and she isn’t a doormat like most Cinderellas either. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading American Gods, but I’ve heard a lot of good things.


      1. Nice! It sounds like the author subverted the Cinderella story so you could make definite comparisons and see the differences.

        I read an “uncut” version of American Gods that I later learned was hundreds of pages longer than the one most people read. It was some 10th anniversary edition that Gaiman put out as the version he originally wanted published. I felt it dragged in places, so I would definitely recommend the one that editors worked on.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you enjoyed this as I’ve seen mixed reviews.
    It’s on my tbr so I’ll get it at the library when it’s my turn. I’ve not read any books by this author and love to discover new authors to love 🙂


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