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Gods of Jade and Shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow

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.

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Publisher: Del Ray

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Rating: 3.5/5

This book was light, fun, and exactly what I needed after reading several heavy, emotional books in a row. It will take you on an adventure to a different culture, tug on your heart strings a bit, and leave you with a smile.

At the start of the story, Casiopea is a Cinderella character; her free-thinking father passed away, and now she lives with her mother’s wealthy family, who basically treat her as the maid. She dreams of independence and adventure. Then one day, she’s left behind while everyone else goes out. Driven by curiosity and rebellion, she opens a mysterious trunk and finds herself resurrecting the god of death.

Since she resurrected him, her life-force is tied to his, so she has to help him get back the missing pieces of his body and regain his full strength before time is up and she dies. So they set off across Mexico and the southwestern US on an adventure. Along the way, they meet other characters from Mayan mythology, learn that more than just Casiopea’s life is at stake, and explore the more human sides of themselves.

I think this book was categorized as adult, but in my opinion, it could just as easily be listed as YA. It actually felt a lot like the Percy Jackson books to me — funny, quirky, save-the-world adventure that takes you on a bit of a clip show of that mythology’s greatest hits.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the book, which is why I knocked off some stars. That makes sense in Percy Jackson because those books are middle grade, but as an adult novel it felt a little small. There is almost no character development, but in hyper-genre-fiction fashion focuses almost entirely on the story.

I think this book was meant more as a love letter to Mayan mythology, and I also feel like the narrative was meant to recall the storytelling style of that culture too. That’s why I’m not really too upset about the juvenile feeling of the writing.

At the end of the day, it was a lot of fun, and I really did like it.

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