Review of "Gods of Jade and Shadow" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia. Gods of Jade and Shadow. New York: Del Rey, 2019.

Hardcover | $26.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0525620754 | 338 pages | Historical Fantasy

3 stars

I heard a bit of buzz about Gods of Jade and Shadow, although not as much, hence why I put it off. But the recent controversy surrounding the appropriating of the Mexican experience for trauma porn in a white author’s book inspired me to seek this one out instead, in hopes of uplifting an ethnically Mexican author instead.

And while I didn’t love this book, there’s a lot of potential. There’s a great premise inspired by Mayan mythology, set in the Jazz Age. It’s promoted as a ethereal fairy tale type story, and while that in some way plays against it in my opinion, it also works in terms of also feeling quite evocative, especially as the setting is so richly described

I also enjoyed Cassiopea’s character arc, for the most part. While the archetypes will feel familiar, and in some cases juvenile, as this is about her coming-of-age, I felt it worked reasonably well.

However, it’s also stylistically odd. Some describe it as too slow, others too fast, and I found I had the same experience. Given that experience, the ending felt a little anticlimactic. And the narrative makes use of omniscient POV often, and it results in feeling more distant from the characters and story.

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this book. I feel like this story was kind of just “ok,” but it hasn’t put me off trying more of Moreno-Garcia’s work, especially if the execution is a bit more even. I tend to think this is one of those “love it or hate it” sorts of books because it is simultaneously “juvenile” and stylized. But if you’re interested in fantasy that evokes a fairy tale feel and/or Mayan myths, perhaps this will be the book for you.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2Gmg76F

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