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August 15, 2019

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ~ a Review

by MK French

Casiopeia Tun lives with her extended family in a small town in the Yucatán peninsula in 1927. She is treated little better than a servant, so she opens a box her grandfather had hidden away. This unwittingly opens the prison for Hun-Kamé, the former ruler of Xibalba, the underworld. Now Casiopeia is drawn into his plans to regain his throne as ruler of the Black City of Xibalba, even as his twin brother tries to thwart them to remain on the throne. Her life is on the line, but this is also the grandest adventure she would ever hope to be on.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

July 2019; Del Rey; 978-0525620754
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); fantasy
Gods of Jade and Shadow is a fascinating look into the mythology of Mexico as well as some of the politics and culture of the Jazz Age as it swept through the country. Not only are there gods in the underworld, there are hungry ghosts that can be summoned for information, demons, and entities that used to be human but carry incredible magical skill. Casiopeia is on a journey that mirrors those of classic epics taught in literature courses: she has to leave behind everything she has ever known to fulfill a grand quest, retrieving items to make a fallen god whole. Along the way, she learns more about herself, the world around her (and in this case, the reality of the underworld that the Catholic priest in her village wants to disavow), and grows up as a result.

Casiopeia was immediately a woman I felt for and connected with. She is frustrated by her small-town life and how claustrophobic she feels caught up in the day to day minutiae where she's judged by cousins, aunts and uncles, and her grandfather. Townsfolk or the church aren't any better, so she feels little kinship when forced to leave on her quest. As our entry point into this fantastic world of magic and gods, she is believable in her reactions to the situation and people around her.  Hun-Kamé starts off as a haughty god that is emotionally distant, but as he draws energy from Casiopeia to regain his lost godhood, he also becomes more human and approachable. His twin is a consummate Bad Guy, sacrificing animals and people without care to find the prophecies that would leave him victorious and able to rule over the modern world.

As with many mythic tales, there are multiple interpretations made, as well as temptation offered for Casiopeia and Hun-Kamé. I found weaving Mayan mythology into the family and potential relationship drama wonderful to read about. The ending carried bittersweet tones to it, and was entirely satisfying as well.

Buy Gods of Jade and Shadow at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

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  1. interesting cover and i do love learning more about mexico. i have been there numerous times and even climber chichen itza
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. This is a wonderful look at Mexico of the 1920's and a peek at the culture.

  2. I've been really curious about this book since I've been seeing it on lots of people's TBRs. Thanks for your review!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I really enjoyed this book and how layered the characters all felt. It's just a fabulous read!