Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’m a fan of Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic so I thought I’d try this earlier book based on mythology of the Popul Vuh, or Guatemala Mayan K’iche’ language book of mythology featuring hero twins and the Lords of the Underworld, Xibalba.

We begin in the extensive house of a rich family in the Yucatan where a girl of the Levya family whose mother married against family will, lives as a kind of servant. One day she opens a chest and finds bones– and a god.

As Casiopea and the revived god travel through Northern Mexico, Baja California, and the lands of the dead, we get to meet other fabulous creatures from Mayan mythology (a goat sorceror, a seductive female assassin, a giant scary bat) and learn a little about the indigenous beliefs of certain Mayan groups. We also see Casiopea try to break out of the rigid life she’d been forced into and contend with modern (for her) life in big cities.

It was fun, and certainly educational, but because alot of the book is spent describing the gods, their lands, etc. at times my attention wandered. If extensive description and imagery (especially of hellish landscapes) is your thing, you’ll love this. That said, I did enjoy the more character-focused Mexican Gothic more for that reason.

The god slowly becomes mortal and acquires mortal feelings, which usually is my romance catnip, but since its a foregone conclusion that will disappear at the end of the book, it didn’t titillate as much as it could have. Moreno-Garcia is more of a literary than a romance writer, so the slight thread of romance didn’t really push the romance button at all.

Anyone interested in South American mythology, Mexican history, or fan of darkness and blood, this is definitely one to pick up.