Hello Humans! Today I’m finally sitting down to write the book review for Gods of Jade and Shadow – which was, in fact, the first book I read as part of my A Book A Day in June challenge. I had high hopes going into this book, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – how would this compare to other similar books?
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.
I’ll start by saying that I think the concept of this book is wonderful. Central and South American fantasy is not something I see often, which is a travesty, and the idea of also having this set in the Jaz Age had me practically salivating. You throw in a ‘strangely alluring god’ and I’m sold. Send me the book I will read it. So yes, the concept and the plot (on paper) really worked for me.
Unfortunately, I felt as though this book wasn’t executed well enough to fulfil the promise that the premise suggested.
Mostly my problem was that this book most certainly told instead of showing. I will say I’m not one of those people who think that any book that tells you something deserves to go straight into the bin. I think there are a number of storytellers who write ‘telling’ stories impeccably well. In this instance, however, the world these characters were moving through was so interesting and should have been filled with such rich detail that I would much prefer to have experienced it through being ‘shown’ it through the eyes of the characters. It’s a delicate thing to put your finger on, but the writing just didn’t quite connect for me.
I did think that Casiopea was an interesting character. I think we can all enjoy a story where a girl discovers her inner strength, cuts off her hair and says ‘fuck you’ to anyone who held her back – I wanted to be on her side with every fibre of my being. Again, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t connect with her in the way I wanted to. Possibly that’s because I didn’t feel like I was seeing the world through her eyes? Reading is so subjective, and I don’t want to suggest that every reader will feel the same way I did, but I found myself not really caring what might happen to Casiopea, I just wanted her to take charge of her own destiny a little earlier on.
The dual POV nature of this book may appeal to some, for my part I never really enjoy reading the perspective of someone who is wilfully awful to a female character (not abusive exactly but certainly not nice) and I’m very unlikely to end up forgiving him or seeing him as a victim of circumstance. Had the whole book been from Casiopea’s perspective I don’t think it would have taken away from the story.
I desperately want to shout from the rooftops that this book is amazing. It should be. But there’s something of a disconnect there, at least for me, and for that reason, I could only give this book three out of five stars. I think it’s one of those books that is important in terms of representing different communities within fantasy, and if you love this book you will really love it – that simply wasn’t the case for me.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
God’s of Jade and Shadow publishes July 23rd!
What say you? Will you be reading God’s of Jade and Shadow? Let me know in the comments below!