In Gods of Jade and Shadow, Casiopeia one days open a mysterious wooden box belonging to her grandfather and accidentally frees the Mayan god of death, linking her life force to him. He wants to re-conquer his throne, stolen decades ago by his twin brother, and Casiopeia needs to help him if she wants to stay alive, but more than that, the adventure calls to her.
In many ways, this book was a breath of fresh air – the main character is a Mexican girl, the Mayan myths which are so underrated in fantasy, the Persephone-and-Hades feel of the story never really gets old for me… and so on.
However, I could not really get invested in the story as much as I wanted, because it was told with a fairy-tale-like structure that bored me so much, especially in the beginning. We start off with Casiopeia being basically Cinderella, with all the nuanced character development of the Disney adaptation – so, none at all. After I persevered, the story actually got really interesting, and I’m always down to a reluctant-allies-to-lovers romance trope, so it got me really hooked. It was also super cool to explore the Mayan myths, of which I remembered so little from my classes in middle school. The writing never really enchanted me, it just felt too simple and almost like a middle grade book. Although this is not a MG, but rather an Adult book, it reads very much like one.
I think this book will please many readers and not suit many others – if you enjoy books for the writing, like I do, perhaps you will be a little underwhelmed by it; but if you enjoy adventurous, plot-driven stories and don’t mind rather undeveloped characters, plus you want to read more about Mayan mythology, I really recommend this one!