Gods of Jade and Shadow
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.
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.
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: July 23rd 2019
Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, Mention of Mutilation, Domestic Abuse
‘’-Dreams are for mortals.
-Because they must die.’’
I’d hate to sound repetitive. I mean… maybe its because I’ve been having a good reading month, but this book? Exceeded expectations.
Not saying I had many expectations, I went into this blind and intrigued. But, this not only had the execution for my heart, but was just the entire package.
We’re in 1972 Yucatán, México following Casiopia— a woman trapped in an abusive household elected to be a maid essentially for her stay. When she opens her grandfather’s forbidden trunk, she unleashes the Mayan God of Death, Hun-Kamé who has been held captive by his brother for the throne. He requests
or demands really her help in reclaiming his stolen throne and Casiopia asks no question, willing to start a journey of her own.
First things first: the writing style here is beautiful, hands down. It’s flowery enough to feed my soul, yet not too heavy to drown me (though, there can never be enough flowery writing for yours truly so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Just so you know, this is one of the rare books that made me hungry? So keep that in mind.
“Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you embroider narratives, and the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in the myth. Yes, the things you name have power.”
Now, this is marketed as a sort of Cinderella retelling, but while it did have elements of that (girls father dies and she gets taken into an abusive home, finds a “prince” and essentially leaves said home) I still wouldn’t really call it only that.
It was a story of a girl who never gave herself the chance to want and when the opportunity arose, she takes it with both hands open, asked no questions and was not going back. It very much has that Hades and Persephone aspect in it as well which I thought was a lovely facet.
In the world of the living, one must live. And had this not been her wish? To live. Truly live.”
And Casiopia as our protagonist was, for a lack of a better word, splendid. She was the actual embodiment of staying true to yourself throughout the entire story. She’s put through a lot, but not once does she switch up— she’s the same caring, strong, sympathetic character, even when she is forced to see the world as a grey area and change her view on family and tradition.
Honestly, the characters are written so well. All of them. Her cousin Martín was written in a way that explained his actions, but in NO WAY excused them. At all. As a matter of fact, even in the end he’s not forgiven and??? Yes??? And Hun-Kamé’s twin brother, you just— you see their actions and you understand them, but never excuse them and that in itself is MAGICAL OKAY?
“Is that why you stare at the stars?” he asked. “Are you searching for beauty or dreaming with your eyes wide open?”
The romance was something I wasn’t really expecting and to be honest, I would have been happy with or without it. Yet, it was written so well, I was here for it. It was one of those relationships where they challenge the other and yes, he was slowly turning mortal, but there’s a lot of humanity and morality, of right and wrong, on vengeance and forgiveness, on self reflection and your part of the story you don’t want to acknowledge…
And unpopular opinion, I liked the ending? It is very bittersweet, but I’m a glutton for pain, so don’t mind me. Also, don’t mind me if I’m first in line for WHATEVER Garcia writes, thank you very much.