Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
From the first page, this retelling of “Cinderella” crossed with the Orpheus legend captivated me. The language is vividly evocative, the characters – both human and supernatural – are compelling, and the depiction of the culture, setting, and history, not to mention the rich folklore and language – are first-rate. I found myself reading more slowly than usual just to savor the luscious prose.
It’s 1927, and elsewhere in the world, the Roaring Twenties are in full swing, but not for Cassiopea Tun, who lives with her downtrodden mother in the small Yucatan village of Uukumil under the despotic thumb of her grandfather and the maliciousness of her vain, useless cousin. By accident, she re-animates Hun-Kamé, Lord of Shadows, the Supreme Lord of Xibalba, land of the dead, and the two embark upon a quest to retrieve the lost parts of his body (an eye, an ear, etc.) and wrest his throne from the clutches of his twin brother. Cassieopea discovers her inner strength, even as associating with her renders Hun-Kamé progressively more human. In this world populated by gods and witches, ghosts and flappers, Mexico itself becomes a character, stretched between desire for modernity and its ancient, compelling heritage.
Gods of Jade and Shadow is a brilliant, satisfying cultural fantasy that pushes the boundaries of the field while offering a sweet story of love, courage, and sacrifice.
The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to praise it. Although chocolates and fine imported tea are always welcome.