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Gods of Jade and Shadow: a perfect blend of…
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Gods of Jade and Shadow: a perfect blend of fantasy, mythology and… (original 2019; edition 2019)

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Author)

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9813615,678 (3.87)48
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. "A spellbinding fairy tale rooted in Mexican mythology . . . Gods of Jade and Shadow is a magical fairy tale about identity, freedom, and love, and it's like nothing you've read before."--Bustle NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR * Tordotcom * The New York Public Library * BookRiot 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. Praise for Gods of Jade and Shadow "A dark, dazzling fairy tale . . . a whirlwind tour of a 1920s Mexico vivid with jazz, the memories of revolution, and gods, demons, and magic."--NPR "Snappy dialog, stellar worldbuilding, lyrical prose, and a slow-burn romance make this a standout. . . . Purchase where Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, and N. K. Jemisin are popular."--Library Journal (starred review) "A magical novel of duality, tradition, and change . . . Moreno-Garcia's seamless blend of mythology and history provides a ripe setting for Casiopea's stellar journey of self-discovery, which culminates in a dramatic denouement. Readers will gladly immerse themselves in Moreno-Garcia's rich and complex tale of desperate hopes and complicated relationships."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)… (more)
Member:stevepugh
Title:Gods of Jade and Shadow: a perfect blend of fantasy, mythology and historical fiction set in Jazz Age Mexico
Authors:Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Author)
Info:Jo Fletcher Books (2019), 353 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:!ebook

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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2019)

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» See also 48 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
While I was somewhat aware of Moreno-Garcia as a writer of fantasy, I'm not aware of having read anything of theirs before. This is a Mayan inspired high fantasy (although of the personal rather than political) with a protagonist who managed to be a hero because she knows the power of stories, and how they are meant to work.

Sub-themes of the value of family, the abuses of power that happen within them, and the value of forgiveness over vengeance.

There are some quite confronting scenes, and the gods are truly not human, even when the characters and/or reader might expect them to be more so.

The writing is superb, the plot tightly knit, and the world-building wondrous. The characters manage to (mostly) appeal, even though they aren't particularly nice people, and there is a clear delineation of the good as the side we are on and the bad as the side we are not. ( )
  fred_mouse | May 15, 2021 |
A poor indigenous girl becomes beholden to a Mayan god of death and travels across Mexico to find his missing body parts.

I loved the endlessly rich mythological details but the main premise of the story is pretty typical (MacGuffin collecting quest!). Perfectly serviceable escapist fantasy. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
A great, light modern myth or fairytale with a strong narrative voice. If you like these kinds of stories, this book is for you.

What I loved
- The setting: 1920s Mexico and Mayan mythology.
- All the classic fairytale elements: mean non-humans (and not-so-mean ones), a protagonist coming into her own, a rags-to-riches story, quests, humans coming in contact with a mythlogical world etc.
- The writing and narrative voice fit the mythological/fairytale theme very well.
- The fact that the classic fairytale elements were modernized.
- The heroine. I thought she was a believable and likeable character in a fairytale story.
- I had a feeling for how the story would end in general, but I kept guessing how they would get there, which I consider a plus.
- The ending. I suspect some people will not like it, but I loved it. Here's why: The gods are clearly depicted as not caring about humans and a happy end for the blossoming romance between Casiopeia and Hun-Kamé would have been her exchanging one bad master for another. I even think it is made pretty clear throughout the book that this would not be a happy ending for her. I love that the book ends with her out on her own, not with a lover, in the comapny of a colourful character that might become her friend, off on a road trip. That's a great, optimistic ending for me. ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
I devoured this—a bit of American Gods meets the Maya pantheon, set in 1920s Mexico, part love story and part supernatural quest, and entirely up my alley. ( )
  krtierney | Mar 19, 2021 |
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow starts as a Mexican Cinderella story, except that the fairy godmother is a Mayan god of death.

Not sold yet? What if I told you the god of death is also Prince Charming?

Moreno-Garcia makes the connection explicit in the first few pages, when we’re introduced to our heroine, Casiopea Tun, a girl who’s lost her father and must sustain herself by serving her richer relations. Her tasks include scrubbing the family estate’s floors, fetching her grandfather’s newspapers, and shining her cousin Martín’s shoes. But she’s not headed for a life-changing ball. Opening her grandfather’s secret box—decorated with “an image of a decapitated man in the traditional Mayan style, his hands holding a double-headed serpent that signaled royalty”—frees Hun-Kamé, Lord of Shadows and the rightful ruler of Xibalba, the ancient underworld. He was imprisoned by his twin brother and needs Casiopea’s help regaining his throne.

This quest involves regaining lost items (à la Cinderella’s glass slipper): “My left eye, ear, and index finger, and the jade necklace,” Hun-Kamé informs Casiopea. “These I must have in order to be myself again.” His brother entrusted these relics to various demons, ghosts, and sorcerers, all of whom must be confronted and overcome.

There’s also a ticking clock. Except the consequences of it striking (metaphorical) midnight are far worse than a mere return to shabby clothes. To reconstitute himself, Hun-Kamé embedded a shard of his bone in Casiopea’s hand. The shard funnels vitality from her to him, slowly draining her essence. If she helps Hun-Kamé achieve his goal in time, he’ll pull out the shard. If she doesn’t, she dies.

It’s an awesome premise.

I also enjoyed the setting. The story takes place in Jazz Age Mexico, shortly after the Mexican Revolution and at a time when pop culture was “all about the United States” and “reproducing its women, its dances, its fast pace. Charleston! The bob cut! Ford cars!” Yet there’s far more old than new here. Mayan mythology threads through the Gods of Jade and Shadow. And when Casiopea reaches a city she hasn’t been to before—such as Mérida or Veracruz—Moreno-Garcia gives us a primer about the area, tutorials that situate the region in a historical context while rarely feeling unnecessary or overlong.

I didn’t always love the pace, though. This was a slow-and-steady read for me. The “travel to a fresh place, beat the bad guys, get the thing” format in the early going became a little repetitive. I also wondered if the eventual contest between Hun-Kamé and his brother was too arbitrary, even allowing for the vagaries of gods. The rules seemed stretched to require Casiopea’s participation, without providing a substantive reason why the twins couldn’t settle their own dispute.

But the book has an irresistible style, and Moreno-Garcia pulls off a romance between Casiopea and Hun-Kamé that’s somehow sweet despite their frequent encounters with (and command of) absolute darkness. If you like fresh takes on classic fairy tales, Gods of Jade and Shadow is definitely worth a look.

(For more reviews like this one, see www.nickwisseman.com)
  nickwisseman | Feb 9, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moreno-Garcia, Silviaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pelavin, DanielCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gottesman, YettaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But what the lords wished was that they should not discover their names.

- Popol Vuh, translated into English by
Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley
from the work by Adrian Recinos
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Para mis abuelas, Goyita y Rosa. Otros mundos, otros sueños.
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Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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. "A spellbinding fairy tale rooted in Mexican mythology . . . Gods of Jade and Shadow is a magical fairy tale about identity, freedom, and love, and it's like nothing you've read before."--Bustle NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR * Tordotcom * The New York Public Library * BookRiot 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. Praise for Gods of Jade and Shadow "A dark, dazzling fairy tale . . . a whirlwind tour of a 1920s Mexico vivid with jazz, the memories of revolution, and gods, demons, and magic."--NPR "Snappy dialog, stellar worldbuilding, lyrical prose, and a slow-burn romance make this a standout. . . . Purchase where Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, and N. K. Jemisin are popular."--Library Journal (starred review) "A magical novel of duality, tradition, and change . . . Moreno-Garcia's seamless blend of mythology and history provides a ripe setting for Casiopea's stellar journey of self-discovery, which culminates in a dramatic denouement. Readers will gladly immerse themselves in Moreno-Garcia's rich and complex tale of desperate hopes and complicated relationships."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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