“Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament.”
Casiopea spends her days cleaning and doing chores for her demanding grandfather, and her nights dreaming of a life of her own. Far from the demands of a family that views her as nothing more than an outsider. But those dreams, over time, start to feel incredibly distant and improbable. One day, while cleaning her grandfather’s room, she comes across a locked and mysterious wooden box. In a moment of rebellion, she unlocks the box and with it releases the spirit of the Mayan god of death. Having been imprisoned by his brother, the god of death is on a quest for revenge, and to gain back his throne. In order to do this he will need Casiopea by his side who, having freed the spirit, is now linked to him. The failure to defeat his brother would mean a demise for both of them. So Casiopea, alongside the god of death, embarks on an adventure she never could have dreamed of.
“Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you embroider narratives, and the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in the myth. Yes, the things you name have power.”
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of one of my favourite novels, Signal to Noise. I adore her writing and will read absolutely anything she releases. This latest novel had all the magic and allure that her books usually have, and I was drawn into the story from the very beginning. Casiopea is a relatable character, albeit a fairly typical one of this genre, but once the adventure begins, you can’t help but be completely on board. The dynamic between her and the god of death is compelling and the way in which that bond develops is well done. In fact, all the characters held my interest and I appreciated the depth given to them, especially the ones that could have just been portrayed as two-dimensional villains. There was something missing in it for me, however, and I am having a hard time distinguishing what that is. Perhaps a darker tone would have made it more intriguing. Having said that, I really enjoyed reading Gods of Jade & Shadow, and by the end I was left with a strong desire to return to this world and visit some of these characters again. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more stories and fables to come.