Do you love reading about baddies in lit? We all know I do! What about reading about death gods? Mayan mythology? Road trips? 1920s Mexico? Then Gods of Jade and Shadow is probably the book for you!
Gods of Jade and Shadow is an adult fantasy novel set during the Jazz Age and in Mexico. Author of Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia pens a fantastical adult fantasy story about revenge, love, and redemption.
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Casiopea Tun comes from a wealthy family in Yucatan, Mexico. Despite that, Casiopea and her mother are treated as servants because Casiopea’s father was an indigenous scholar, and her grandfather did not approve of her parent’s relationship. Casiopea spends most of her days taking care of her grandfather but one day, while home alone, she opens an ancient chest in her grandfather’s room and awakens Hun-Kamé, the former ruler of Xibalba. Hun- Kamé is determined to regain his throne, but he needs Casiopea’s help to do it. What follows is a road trip through Mexico and an unexpected love story.
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!
I borrowed this book from the library, but it needs a permeant place on my bookshelf. The writing is phenomenal. Let me take a second to stan! The way SMG weaves Mayan/indigenous culture into the descriptions of Hun- Kamé expression is genius. Take this quote, for example
Basalt is a volcanic rock that the Mayans and the Aztecs used when creating sculptures and art of their gods. So, by comparing Hun- Kamé face to basalt, SMG is not only nodding towards the Mayas who created his sculptures, but also intertwining his existence to their culture right down to his facial expressions!
Besides basalt, I also noted that SMG uses Jade and Obsidian in a similar way. Jade was the gemstone favored by the Mayans because its colored resembles corn, which was their main diet. And obsidian, volcanic glass, which the Mayans used to make knives.
Considering by the time this book takes place, Catholicism is the predominant religion, and as Hun- Kamé states, the gods don’t receive as many sacrifices. I found these instances incredibly brilliant.
I also loved Casiopea’s character! Casiopea comes off as tough stuff, but we catch the first glimpse of her fear not when she awakens a god and learns that he’s sucking her life force, or when she meets a demon in Veracruz, but when Hun- Kamé summons some spirits.
Additionally, Casiopea isn’t afraid to swear at Hun- Kamé, who can conjure money from dust and speak to animals. Blasphemy? What’s that? I’m beginning to see a theme with my latinx books this month. Curse a god and tell them how you really feel is the only way.
I’ve read about bad boys like Hun- Kamé before in many stories. But I loved reading about the way this man grew from solely focusing on revenge to cracking smiles and feeling emotions for the first time. Could it be a metaphor for toxic masculinity?
Slight spoiler here
One of the last scenes we are granted with Hun- Kamé is truly beautiful.
I think Gods of Jade and Shadow is beautiful, amazing, show-stopping, 100 percent unique, but I have one big note about the ending of this book.
Casiopea going on another road trip— this time in the U.S was amazing. I love that she was able to do what she always wanted and explore. However, there is no epilogue in this story that gives us a peak of Casiopea, and Hun- Kamé in Xialbalba and that is unforgivable. I grasped at the fluffy moments throughout the novel and would have simply perished if there was a peak into their afterlife.
Gods of Jade and Shadow is a five-star rating from me and has a permanent place on my bookshelf. I recommend this novel to those of us who love gods of death story or bookish bad boys.
Some CW: This novel includes animal sacrifice, blood sacrifice, two headed snakes, and mentions of decapitation
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Until next time readers I’ll be living in libros,