Unlike anything I’ve ever read. This Mayan death god myth-making tale was perfect.
First off, I am probably in the minority, but I did not see this story as overly similar to a Cinderella tale—the similarities end after the first few chapters. The marketing for Gods of Jade and Shadow bills it as a Jazz-Age Cinderella, but the story felt much more like Hades and Persephone with a dash of the Art Deco.
I could not get enough of this story.
Gods of Jade and Shadow follows the story of Casiopea, a girl growing up in rural Mexico in the early 1900s who discovers a chest of ancient black bones in her grandfather's bedroom. Accidentally cutting herself and bleeding on the bones, Casiopea resurrects the Mayan god of death, Hun-Kame. Hun-Kame was cursed and imprisoned in his bones (well, most of his bones) by his twin brother, and suffice to say Hun-Kame is not pleased with the turn of events. Finding herself tied to Hun-Kame through her blood, Casiopea embarks on a quest with the death god to collect his missing bones and defeat his twin brother to reclaim the Mayan underworld.
Obviously, the tone of Gods of Jade and Shadow is dark and mythic in scope—and it reads that way.
One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the gritty realism brought to the plot by Casiopea herself. She stands apart from almost every other female protagonist I've read. She's no-nonsense in the pragmatic sense, she's extremely dry with her humor, and she does NOT fall into any of the main tropes. Tie these personality traits in with Hun-Kame, an ancient god with no empathy and no sense of sarcasm, and you have a winning match.
Things I loved: Casiopea, Hun-Kame's inability to understand inflection, Hun-Kame and Casiopea's no-nonsense responses to the absurd, the LACK OF AN INSTANT ROMANCE, the adventure-style journey to different parts of 1920s Mexico, the unfolding of the plot, Casiopea's honestly iconic reactions to her cousin, the final climactic sequence, and again for the people in the back THE LACK OF AN UNDERDEVELOPED AND OVERHYPED ROMANCE. There’s a romance, but it’s supremely well done and slow.
Things I didn't love: Alright, I'll be honest. I struggled with the pacing and lack of intimacy with Casiopea at the beginning. It's a slow entrance and a different way to write fantasy—very much keeping in line with old school myth tales. However, by the end I was HOOKED on the writing style and loved the pacing.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.