First Impression Friday: “Gods of Jade & Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you remember, I received Mexican Gothic as one of my Fantastic Stranglings book club books last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was chilling without being overtly horrifying, and it was easy to read, even if I knew nothing of the area it took place in. A few days ago, I came across Gods of Jade & Shadow as a Kindle daily deal and purchased it, hoping that one of her earlier books would be just as good as her newest.

From GoodReads:

Here we shall begin to tell a story: a tale of a throne lost, of monsters and magic. A tale of gods and of the shadow realm. But this, our story, it begins in our world, in the land of mortals.

It begins with a woman. For this story, it is her story. It begins with her.

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.

Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

Gods of Jade and Shadow

My first thought upon opening this book was that Casiopea is a Cinderella story, because her father has died and her mother has moved them back home to her family, where they spend every day cooking and cleaning and generally being in service to her aunts, uncles, and cousins, but most importantly, her grandfather. Her rich grandfather, who has promised to leave her one thousand pesos upon his death, and Casiopea dreams every night about what she will do with that money and how she will spend her freedom.

That is, until her cousin Martin gets her riled up one time too many, and she ends up being banned from the family’s monthly trip to a healing hot spring (her grandfather is trying to find ways to prolong his life). The rest of her family goes, leaving her alone in her grandfather’s mansion – alone with the golden key to the mysterious box her grandfather has never once answered questions about. And of course, this means Casiopea has to open the box, hoping there will be enough gold inside to let her leave the village forever. What’s inside is not gold, however – it’s bones, and at her touch, they reassemble themselves into a figure claiming to be the god of death. Casiopea, having touched the bones, is now bound to serve him until he is able to fully regenerate.

I think this is where I admit that I don’t know anything beyond the most basic of basics about Mayan mythology, which means I’m certain that this book is going to cause me to do a lot of research on my own. I’m hoping Casiopea is able to obtain her freedom not only for her, but for her mother, and I am incredibly interested in seeing where the god of death ends up leading her.

Where should I start with Mayan mythology? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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