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338 pages, Hardcover
First published July 23, 2019
He’d fallen in love slowly and quietly, and it was a quiet sort of love, full of phrases left unsaid, laced with dreams. He had imagined himself a man for her, and he allowed her to see the extent of this man, and he gave her this speck of heart, which was a man, to hold for a moment before taking it back the second before it faded.
It’s greater than you or I, this tale.
“Mexico City in the 1920s was all about the United States, reproducing its women, its dances, its fast pace. Charleston! The bob cut! Ford Cars!”
“She was wilful, daggers hidden beneath her muttered yeses, her eyes fixing on him, slick as oil.”
“There was the slim veneer of civilty to his actions. He spoke unpleasantries, but in the tone of a gentleman.”
“Mortals have always been frightened of the night’s velvet embrace and the creatures that walk in it, and yet they find themselves mesmerized by it.”
“The imagination of mortals shaped the gods, carving their faces and their myriad forms, just as the water molds the stones in its path, wearing them down through the centuries.”
In Gods of Jade and Shadow Silvia Moreno-Garcia weaves a mesmerizing story reflecting our old myths and fairytales. Warring gods use humans as pawns in their wars for power (think every myth ever) - and one of them falls in love with the human pawn. It’s a new take on the old idea - and it’s fresh and fascinating in Moreno-Garcia’s hands.
“Casiopea Tun was off into the world, not in the way she had imagined, but off nevertheless.”Casiopea Tun is an outcast in her rich provincial Yucatán family. Born out of an undesired marriage and inheriting more “Indian” blood than her family desired, she is treated as little more than a servant and is subjected to the strong antipathy from her cousin who is slated to become an heir for the family fortunes. Mexican Jazz Age in 1927 may as well be happening in another world; to her it’s little but unattainable dreams and secret newspaper clippings. And then, one day she unwittingly frees the trapped Mayan god of Death Hun-Kamé and through parasitic life-draining spiritual link becomes his accomplice and tool on his quest to reclaim the Underworld - Xibalba - from his usurper brother. But through his link to her, through parasitic use of her life force, the god of Death himself attains shreds of humanity. And where young man and woman meet, love is certain to follow, or so the stories go.
“The things you name do grow in power, but others that are not ever whispered claw at one’s heart anyway, rip it to shreds even if a syllable does not escape the lips.”
The dinosaur-killing asteroid responsible for Chicxulub crater on the Yucatán peninsula also added magical energy to that place. Apparently.
“Was I cruel? I was a god; you might as well ask the river if it is gentle in its path, or the hail whether it hurts the land when it strikes it.”
“She smiled at Hun-Kamé. He smiled at her too. What was this? A simple act of mimicry? No. The smile, like his laughter, like the errant dream, came from his heart. Did he realize it? No. Does everyone who has been young and foolish realize the extent and depth of their emotions? Of course not.”
It is also a story where characters try to act like adults. There are hard choices to be made, and they are made with reason and logic and thoughts of the future beyond immediate gratification and fairytale love-conquers-all bring-on-the-happily-ever-after attitude. First love is not all-encompassing. Childhood slights do not form the beacons for the future. Revenge is pitted against reason, and reason seems to prevail. And the romance is light, blissfully never overpowering, never sliding into that angst that other stories of this kind can get oversaturated with.
“It wasn’t fair. But there wasn’t an “after” in stories, was there? The curtain simply fell. She was not in a fairy tale, in any case. What “after” could there be?”I read this book in one sitting in a slightly dazed post-migraine brain haze that may have made it even more evocative than what it actually is - and those were few hours well-spent. I loved the journey through the Jazz Age Mexico and into the Underworld with a part-human Mayan Death god and a practical young woman figuring out what freedom and love mean. I see why it got the Nebula Award nomination.
They were quiet and they were foolish, both of them, thinking they were treading with any delicacy, and that if they somehow moderated their voices they'd stop the tide of emotion. The things you name do grow in power, but others that are not ever whispered claw at one's heart anyway, rip it to shreds even if a syllable does not escape the lips. The silence was hopeless in any case, since something escaped the god, anyway: a sigh to match the girl's own.
When there was but a gray speck of his heart left, he bent down and kissed her again, briefly, a brush of lips. A grain of dust may contain a universe inside, and it was the same for him. Within that grey speck there lived his love and he gave it to Casiopea, for her to see. He'd fallen in love slowly and quietly, and it was a quiet sort of love, full of phrases left unsaid, laced with dreams. He had imagined himself a man for her, and he allowed her to see the extent of this man....
// buddy read with cath!!
1927. Eighteen year old Casiopea Tun slogs like a maid at her maternal grandfather’s place where she has been staying with her mother after her dad’s death. She dreams of a life from away from that small town and drudgery. One day, she opens a strange chest in her grandfather’s room and ends up accidentally freeing the spirit of Hun- Kamé, the Mayan God of Death, who in turn erolls her to join him on his quest of recovering the throne of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, from his cunning twin, Vucub-Kamé. Thus begins Casiopea’s adventure through various Mexican cities and other-worldly realms, with a God for company and interactions with strange beings along the way.