I love reading books that include a bit of folklore and I always admire a beautiful background of triumph over family heartache. And let’s not forget that the author is a woman of color. So, I will admit I came into this novel with a bit of a bias. Well, let’s get into it!
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia tells the story of Casiopea, a girl who after her father’s death has been trapped acting as a servant to her Grandfather and family. She isn’t asking for much, she just wants to leave her hometown and get out from under the thumb of her grandfather and cruel cousin Martín (who doesn’t like her because she has the nerve to be smart, which should never be the case in a girl). It isn’t a lofty goal but to her it means everything.
One day, after her Grandfather treats her especially cruel thanks to the lies of her cousin she ventures to her Grandfather’s room in order to seek some sort of revenge. Looking down at a chest he keeps locked, Casiopea just want to open it, to see her Grandfather’s secret and no something no one else in the family knows. And since Grandfather left the key at home, she does just that. But what she finds in the chest shocks her. Clean, white bones that begin to come to life and once fully-revived they turn out to be Hun-Kumé, one of the gods of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. He was betrayed by his twin brother with the help of Grandfather fifty years ago and now seeks vengeance and the return of his throne.
Additionally, in touching the bones, she got a shard stuck in her hand, a shard that causes the god to slowly drain the energy from Casiopea while it also turns him more human. In order to save them both, the duo must seek out the body parts Hun-Kamé is still missing before it is too late. But things are stirring in the underworld as well, will they make it in time?
Overall Score: 5/5⭐
This story was as beautiful as the cover and even more intriguing. The folklore aspect is used perfectly by Moreno-Garcia and she gives such a personality to the gods that they become human in a way, and by that I mean they are relatable, even if they are cruel. Additionally, the changes in the characters were slow and under the radar. One cool aspect was that as Hun-Kamé slowly becomes more human, his physical appearance changes but ever so slightly. That detail, although it seems minor, plays a huge part in how Casiopea relates to him and how we read his actions and his words. And like I said in the beginning, I am all for familial rivalry and overcoming boundaries. The two families shown are realistic and the bitterness between them doesn’t feel contrived or forced. A young woman who is supposed to be fine with her abuse and a god who is supposed to stay asleep…it’s interesting, adventurous and comical.
Thank you for stopping by! Have you read this amazing novel yet? If so, what did you think of it? And if you haven’t do you think you might after this review? Be sure to leave questions and comments down below! I love hearing from my bookish family.
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