Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Writer: Silvia Moreno – Garcia
Publishing House: Quercus Books
Date of Publication: July 23rd 2019
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament.’’
Yucatán, Mexico during the 1920s. Casiopea has found herself in an awful situation. Her beloved father, a lover of mythology and fables, has died. Her mother is a weak woman who only knows how to cry and pray. The young woman has been left practically alone, struggling to cope with the insults of her tyrannical grandfather and disgusting cousin. Until the day an old chest is opened and the God of Death escapes. In order to fight against treason and fulfill a mysterious destiny, Casiopea and the dashing god will lead us on an unforgettable journey in one of the most fascinating countries of our planet through folklore, mythology and every virtue and vice of the mortal soul. And the immortal spirit.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has created an outstanding novel. The culture and vibe of Yucatán come alive through beautiful prose. The political background of the complex 1920s is immediately set and this makes for an extremely interesting start. It is then that I understood Gods of Jade and Shadow is so much more than a modern fairy tale. It is a political and social commentary on issues that shape every nation in every era. In my opinion, the beauty of the story lies in the successful balance between Historical Fiction and Mythology. The writer uses the vast Mexican tradition and folklore to demonstrate a young woman’s fight against domestic violence, physical and psychological, against discrimination and limited, preconceived expectations. Through her love for Greek and Mayan mythology and her combined faith to the Christian religion and the beliefs of her forefathers, Casiopea faces a world as fascinating as it is dark, populated with powerful gods and mighty sorceresses, demons, ghosts, strange beings and corrupted priests who use Religion as an excuse to oppress the cries for change. And once again, we come to understand that the vilest of creatures can be found among the mortals. No surprise there really…
The writing is beautiful, the dialogue is exceptional. Don’t be hesitant if your knowledge of Mayan mythology is limited. The writer is an excellent guide and answers all our questions within the story without being redundant or lectury. However, the strength of this marvelous book lies in the character of Casiopea. She is forced to mature beyond her 18 years and her personality remains an integral part of the plot throughout the book. Despite the circumstances and the constant discoveries she makes concerning herself and the world around her (and beyond…), she doesn’t compromise. She becomes wiser and remains firmly faithful to her values and the principles given to her by her father. She doesn’t lose faith and brings a god to his senses, forcing him to see what is real. Now, Hun-Kamé is perfection. I’m fangirling a bit, yes, but it is true. The God of Death has to come to terms with the mortal nature that is believed to be hidden inside every deity. The dynamic between Casiopea and him is one more driving force of the novel. All characters are excellently drawn, even the ones you’ll come to hate with all your heart, even the tiniest mythical figures will surprise you.
Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Fairytale, Folklore…The novel can easily fall into five-six genres. One thing is for certain. You will adore Gods of Jade and Shadow from the very first chapters. It is a beautiful token of what happens when a truly gifted writer respects the original sources and weaves an exciting and powerful tale relevant to all. A magical, mystical journey.
‘’-Dreams are for mortals.
-Because they must die.’’
Many thanks to Quercus Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.