The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. Dreaming of a new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day Casiopea finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather's room. She opens it--freeing the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother.
[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.