Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #GodsofJadeandShadow

GodsofGods of Jade and Shadow is the third book I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  I was so excited to see this one pop up and I’m pleased to say it doesn’t disappoint.  Steeped in folklore and taking inspiration from fairy tales this is the story of one young woman’s journey across Mexico, accompanied by a God, Hun,-Kame – the Lord of Shadows – or Mayan God of Death.

Casiopea Tun is the Cinderella of the story.  Downtrodden and treated as a servant by her family she spends all day cleaning and running errands.  And all this for one of the wealthiest and most respected families in the small dusty Mexican town in which she lives.  She daydreams about the simple pleasures in life, travelling, seeing the ocean and dancing and although she holds little hope of achieving these things she remains optimistic, particularly in the face of her cousin Martin who is constantly tormenting her.  Casiopea’s life changes dramatically when she one day opens a locked chest in her grandfather’s room releasing a long imprisoned spirit and in the process tying herself to his fate.  Has anybody heard about Pandora and what she released – or maybe curiosity killing the cat??  Anyway, to an extent, downsides notwithstanding, Casiopea finally gets her wish to leave the confines of her family home and travel – and with a dashing and sometimes daunting God no less.  What could possibly go wrong?

So, this is told in a fairly linear fashion.  Casiopea and her companion must travel across Mexico, collecting various ‘items’ along the way, in order to return Hun-Kame to his former self and render him capable of standing against his twin brother, Vucub-Kame, and reclaiming his throne that was most treacherously stolen from him.  We travel from place to place making the acquaintance of a number of fantastical characters.

To be honest, what I loved about this most was the difference.  It’s set in the Jazz Age, beaded dresses, art deco and the Charleston are in full swing.  It’s a new era and a lot of the elements, short bobbed hair for example, are shocking in the extreme. I loved seeing all of this afresh from Casiopea’s perspective and watching her gradually awaken to the multitude of possibilities.  She goes from strength to strength and along the way she also falls a little bit in love.  But, don’t think this is a romance, it isn’t, that’s just an aside to the story.  Really this is more about Casiopea’s own journey, about her finding herself, gaining confidence along the way and being strong enough to do the right thing.  Casiopea is a young woman poised on the brink of possibility.  On top of that, although she has help along the way she basically becomes the hero of the piece which is just so refreshing.

The world here is not overly described but there are enough descriptions to really build up a convincing picture.  I think this is one of the strong points for this particular author.  She doesn’t labour the point and yet is able, apparently effortlessly (although probably not effortlessly at all) to really conjure a sense of place.  Heat, dust, food, mode of travel, dress, etc.  They’re all worked into the narrative without the need for info dumps.  I guess this is made possible in some respects by the fact that Casiopea is so sheltered and so we, the reader, are experiencing things through her eyes and yet it just helps to really pull you into the story.

In terms of characters.  Well, obviously, we have Casiopea – and what a wonderful character she is.  She isn’t waiting to be rescued.  She’s sheltered, downtrodden and naive and yet she isn’t afraid to grasp the bull by the horns, take risks and go out into the big wide world.  What a fantastic protagonist she is.  She made me smile.  She’s not perfect, not always fearless, not always immune to persuasion but at the end of the day she’s just great – I simply have to applaud the author to come up with such a strong female character.  The Mayan God of Death – what can I say, he’s a moody sod.  Tempestuous, aloof, superior, downright good looking and with some rather brilliantly caustic dialogue – he’s a rather decent bit of mind candy and I loved watching the relationship between the two of them grow but that isn’t the entire focus here.  It’s more about the changes that people bring about in each other and it’s rather brilliantly portrayed.  At the end of the day the baddies aren’t always necessarily bad and the goodies aren’t necessarily always good – and sometimes it takes somebody with a different way of seeing things to step in and connect people to their ‘better selves’ and that’s what I felt came across really well.

The ending – I’m not going to tell you.  You’ll simply have to read the book.  All I can say is that I thought this had the perfect ending and if the author ever wanted to pick up and revisit from the place she left off I would be the first to pick up that book.

In terms of criticisms – I don’t have much.  I had a certain slowness during the middles sections of the book.  It didn’t make me want to put the book down but I definitely felt a little lag in the pace.  Other than that – I have nothing.

So, think Cinderella, think Labyrinth, think Pan’s Labyrinth, think American Gods – and then think of none of those thing.  Yes, of course, if you like those then this might resonate with you but it strongly stands on it’s own two feet.

I received a copy, courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Finally my thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for including me in the blog tour for this wonderful novel.  I’ve posted the banner below so you can see which other bloggers are taking part and maybe pay them a visit to check out their thoughts too.

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17 Responses to “Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #GodsofJadeandShadow”

  1. Jules_Writes

    Lovely review.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Your enthusiastic review convinced me that we could never, ever go wrong with a work from Moreno-Garcia, and that we can always expect the unexpected with her stories…
    Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      What I really like about this author is that the three books that I’ve read so far have been so very different. It’s very impressive.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Captain's Quarters

    I read this book and her vampire book and I will certainly be reading more. She is such a fantastic writer. Loved getting yer take on this one. Arrrr!
    x The Captain

  4. bkfrgr

    This sounds fantastic, and I lovelovelove that book cover, it’s sumptuous!! This is definitely going on the list – I had no idea it existed until I read your review and your review was so glowing how can I not read this?! Thank you. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, I hope you love it – I already loved this author to be honest, she feels so fresh and unique.
      Lynn 😀

      • bkfrgr

        I went on to look up her other stuff and she sounds pretty darn cool!! 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        Certain Dark Things – that was my introduction to this author – and I was completely sold.
        Lynn 😀

  5. sjhigbee

    Cracking review, Lynn:)). I agree with what you’ve said – I, too, loved this book. She is one of the most exciting writers around at present, which you have effectively demonstrated.

  6. waytoofantasy

    This one looks so great. I’m really looking forward to getting to it myself eventually.

    • @lynnsbooks

      What I particularly loved about this is the main character and the fact that she acts the way she feels is best and doesn’t require rescuing.
      Lynn 😀

  7. TTT : Wish you were there? | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] wrote Certain Dark Things, a fantastic vampire novel set in Mexico and then more recently Gods of Jade and Shadow which takes us to the roaring 20s and is a fairytale style story of a young Mexican woman […]

  8. July : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Storm […]

  9. Best of the Best list : 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Storm […]

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