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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Can’t Wait Wednesday : Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Because I really do love this author and just check out the synopsis:

Gods ofJade.jpgThe Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore, for readers of The Song of Achilles and Uprooted.

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.

Due for publication : August 2019

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

beautThe first book I read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was Certain Dark Things, which I loved.  It was dark and full of vampire myth, a gritty urban fantasy that I couldn’t put down and a world and cast of characters that I would gladly return to.  The Beautiful Ones is a completely different read – which, basically should be obvious to anybody really given the blurb and the cover – I knew it was going to be unlike my first read by this author so that wasn’t a surprise at all, however, if you’re picking this one up thinking it’s going to maybe have a dangerous edge then I can tell you now that isn’t the case.

If I was going to try and give you a very quick idea of what this one is like I would compare it to one of the classics, the first one that springs to mind being Pride and Prejudice – because there certainly is an element of la-di-da society and etiquette is paramount.  But, if I was going to be really honest I’d more liken this to Wuthering Heights – except in the style of Jane Austen and with paranormal elements thrown in for good measure.  I did enjoy this but I really think that you have to pick it up with the right expectations.  Basically, this is a period romance, carried out in polite society where the paranormal elements are really only an aside to the story rather than a key element.  I enjoyed it, I thought the characters were very well drawn and it seems to highlight for me that in Moreno-Garcia we have an author who isn’t prepared to be defined by one style and is more than happy to give her writing abilities a good workout.

I won’t really elaborate too much on the plot. Nina Beaulieu is about to enter her first Season with the help of her beautiful but rather cold sister in law Valerie.  Nina is a little unrefined in some respects – or she’s the Country mouse to Valerie’s polished City mouse. She’s also a little bit unusual in that she has telekinetic powers and has in the past had a few mishaps due to her lack of control that have fed the gossip mill.  I liked Nina, she wasn’t afraid to be different, in fact she didn’t see anything wrong in her abilities and found all the gossip and whisperings, not to mention the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ a little bit stifling.  She didn’t try to hide her abilities, in fact she wholeheartedly tried to discover more about how to improve her ability, and she’s very blunt – well, in terms of the society that she moves in at least.

Nina actively seeks out the company of Hector Auvray.  Hector is a performer, risen from very poor beginnings his abilities have led to immeasurable wealth and fame and although he isn’t one of the upper class he is grudgingly permitted to socialise with them.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s fairly easy on the eye.  Pretty soon Hector begins to court Nina and she in turn begins to fall a little bit in love never realising that Hector has ulterior motives.

Valerie, Nina’s sister in law, put me in mind, in some respects, to Lady Blakeney from the Scarlet Pimpernell – she’s very polished, beautiful and a socialite that everyone mimics but, scratch the surface and she has a hidden past.  Unlike Lady Blakeney, Valerie’s beautiful facade hides a rather bitter and twisted soul.  Scheming and machinations are second nature to her and she has no qualms about using Nina to further her own ambitions.

This isn’t a fast paced novel, there isn’t a good deal of mystery involved, it definitely falls into the land of romance and on top of that we end up with a love triangle!  And yet, in spite of that I found myself enjoying this more than I expected.  I was always keen to pick it back up and it has this lovely sense of build up.  You can see that everything’s going to go horribly wrong and you just want people to take a minute to calm down and think things through – but, I guess that wouldn’t help the story along now would it.

Ultimately I had a good time with this book.  It’s probably unfair to compare it to my previous read by this author but nobody every said life was fair and, no, this one doesn’t top Certain Dark things for me personally.  However, it’s entertaining, fun and the writing is solid.  If you like paranormal, period romances (not, I hasten to add a bodice ripper) with well developed characters then I would definitely recommend this.  It’s a bit of a no brainer for me as I’ve always liked the classics and this one just has that edge of difference that intrigued me enough to want to give it a shot.

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

Waiting on Wednesday : The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  I loved Certain Dark Things so can’t wait to pick up more by this author.

Thebeautiful“Truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. This sweeping tale of love lost and found is told with old-world elegance and grace with just the right touch of magic.” —M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin’s wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society.

Antonina, who prefers her family’s country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society’s ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can’t help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent.

Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice.

Due out in October

The best of the best of the best 2016

As is my tradition I’m breaking in the New Year with a little look back at my favourite books from 2016.  Another good reading year with plenty to choose from and I admit that I struggled narrowing this down to 10, in fact I singled out at least 25 in my initial search.  I really did read some most excellent books this year in fact I was lucky enough to get through 120 books.  My list for the year is here.  Without further ado my favourites for 2016 with links to the reviews.

  1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
  2. City of Blades by Robert J Bennett
  3. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  4. The Silver Tide by Jen William
  5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  6. Company Town by Madeline Ashby
  7. Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz
  8. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
  9. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  10. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I feel like I should also make honorary mentions for Monstrous Little Voices by Jonathan Barnes, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Fox Meadows, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards, 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, The Hike by Drew Magary, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch

 

 

 

 

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