[Moreno-Garcia] focuses not on our ears but our mind’s eye as she brings this world to life with color. The titular jade is abundant and the author’s palette is expansive ... the simple yet richly evocative prose vividly paints their path and the various other magical characters they meet on it. Even the underworld, a place we would assume would be the epitome of drab, comes alive with vibrant hues ... The effect is deeply sensory and absorbing, taking the reader on a visual and emotional journey as the two leading characters are confronted with fearsome foes and impossible choices. Readers of Naomi Novik will drink this book in with greedy gulps. Concise yet commanding and measuredly paced, Gods of Jade and Shadow combines whimsy, adventure, and an uplifting central message to create the kind of rip-roaring good time that myths are made of.
... the magic that Silvia Moreno-Garcia weaves in Gods of Jade and Shadow immerses the audience in a fairy tale like no other ... Readers will be floored by Moreno-Garcia’s painstaking attention to detail, especially in her unforgettable descriptions of the emotionally charged interactions between realistic human characters and otherworldly gods, witches and demonic forces, as well as the fairy-tale and folktale aspects of the plot.
... is at its witty, compelling, and merciless best when it is fully rooted in its setting, a perfectly organic combination of 1920s Jazz Age Mexico and the Mayan mythological text, the Popol Vuh ... the pleasure of seeing Mayan mythology underlying what at first seems to be a straightforward rendition of the Cinderella trope adds immediate interest to Moreno-Garcia's work. Nevertheless, for the first few chapters of Gods of Jade and Shadow, the dominant tone is that of the basic fairy-tale retelling, and while Casiopeia's anger, frustration, and family entanglements are all well-drawn, they are nothing particularly special. The book comes into itself the moment Casiopeia is entangled with Hun-Kamé ... does not offer easy or simple answers. It dazzles, instead, showing the reader a world that seems entirely inevitable, a Mexico of the 1920s that would naturally be infused with Precolumbian magic ... effervescent and surprising ... a dispatch from a universe where indigenous American legends have always been part of the lexicon of fantasy. That universe gets closer to being ours every day, and we are better for it.
... epic in scope, reminding me tonally of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, with humorous, biting depictions of the characters and towns they travel through ... There was much to admire about this book, but one thing I appreciated in particular was the omniscient narrator providing social and historical landscapes of Mexico, Texas, and Xibalba with a level of vivid, arresting detail these places don’t often get outside of travel magazines or anthropological texts, from an outsider’s point of view ... The stories and characters are integrated into this historical novel and give life to these stories in a way I have not seen before, even as an avid reader of supernatural and fantastical fiction. By using these stories and expanding on them to incorporate contemporary elements, the author does them service, bringing them to new audiences and expanding on them in her own imaginative way. The descriptions of the spirits, demons and creatures of the underworld that move through time and space are poetic; they rendered the characters in my imagination in ways both cinematic and surreal ... strikes a strong balance between the epic scope of the adventure at hand, and the rich internal lives of the characters ... what kept me reading was the deliberate way that Moreno-Garcia depicts a strong sense of time, and how our traditional stories are inextricable from our histories.
There’s so much to love about Gods of Jade and Shadow, so many great elements that come together into a wonderful whole. The setup is interesting and the book only gets better from there, with freshness and unexpected twists to the plot, and no plot holes or contrivances that I noticed. Casiopea is a terrific heroine, strong-willed, rebellious and full of the desire to experience everything she has been denied. Her youth is apparent in her dreams but she is also pragmatic and practical. She is a kind of Cinderella figure ... I loved the writing, too. The book is narrated in third person omniscient POV. This is not a POV style that’s popular nowadays, but when it’s done well, as it is here, it can be a magical experience ... My one nitpick is that despite his understandable reasons for his actions, Vucub-Kame was less interesting than most of the other characters, and I wasn’t as engaged by his relationship with Hun-Kame. While the sections set in Xibalba added to the atmosphere and I loved the eeriness of some of the creatures that populated it, including Vucub-Kame’s giant owl, I was more absorbed by the other parts of the book.
Moreno-Garcia has a talent for taking Mexican folklore, customs, and mythology, twisting them around, and turning out fascinating stories immersed in different genre tropes ... Fans of lush, evocative language will be thoroughly delighted.
... a stirring historical fantasy set in the Roaring Twenties and steeped in Mayan mythology ... Snappy dialog, stellar worldbuilding, lyrical prose, and a slow-burn romance make this a standout ... Purchase where Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, and N.K. Jemisin are popular.
Much of the pleasure in a novel like this comes from the exploration of that cosmology and its associated culture, but Moreno-Garcia doesn’t neglect the broader mortal world her characters move through...For readers unfamiliar with the finer details of Mexican history, these contextual elements are very welcome, building a complex picture that resists easy essentialism ... Some of that comes at a price, though. The omniscient perspective that allows Moreno-Garcia to discourse upon trends and events in Mexican history is frequently distancing when it comes to the characters themselves ... the reader rarely gets a chance at the kind of close empathy other viewpoint structures more readily provide ... A second difficulty comes from the structure of the story ... Fortunately, by the end of the novel both of these problems fade away ... the final playing-out of the struggle for the future of Xibalba and the mortal world is satisfyingly both personal and mythic, in a way that rings true to the principles of the cosmology from which those gods come.
Moreno-Garcia links religion and mythology together seamlessly by showing the power of words and belief in what seems improbable ... It was great how the book changed the point of view between characters as you could see the motivation behind each persons actions and gave the book more depth ... builds a world that is vibrant with life, rich in culture, and followed by haunting shadows that makes your spine tingle. Each character and each location is so beautifully constructed that you are completely immersed in this extraordinary book. You feel like you are with them every step of the way, not just watching from a distance ... builds a world that is vibrant with life, rich in culture, and followed by haunting shadows that makes your spine tingle. Each character and each location is so beautifully constructed that you are completely immersed in this extraordinary book. You feel like you are with them every step of the way, not just watching from a distance.
... a magical novel of duality, tradition, and change ... Moreno-Garcia’s seamless blend of mythology and history provides a ripe setting for Casiopea’s stellar journey of self-discovery, which culminates in a dramatic denouement. Readers will gladly immerse themselves in Moreno-Garcia’s rich and complex tale of desperate hopes and complicated relationships.