Tag Archives: fantasy

Gods of jade and shadow

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As fate would have it, I ended up with two copies of Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s Gods of Jade and Shadows. I won an ARC through Goodreads initially, and then someone left a copy in the Little Free Library.
gods of jade and shadow

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

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.

my review

Oh, I thought this was marvelous. And I don’t even think I realized, as I was reading it, how much I loved it. It is after all a bit on the slow side, with quite a lot of exposition. It was only in finishing it and looking back at the journey as a whole that I sighed in true contentment.

We’re given a strong, competent heroine who gets everything she wished for—if not in the way she imagined it—by doing the right thing in difficult situations. We have a villain who is recognizable and realistic. We have two gods and a whole cosmos of divinity that are inhumane but relatable. They are, after all, gods, not humans. We have a subtle romance based in the heart, not the loins. And the whole thing is steeped in shades and tones of oral history, as if this is a myth being told.

True, the sudden shift in Hun-Kame and Vucub-Kame’s attitudes at the end are jarring and hard to believe. But, as the book repeatedly reinforces, symbolism and myth-making are important. And the inner workings of gods, when influenced by the imagination of man is beyond the mundane.

And lastly, my favorite part is right at the end. I just need a chance to vocalize it because I’m having all the feel about it. But it’s a spoiler, so skip this paragraph if you haven’t read the book yet. Hun-Kame sent Casiopea a final gift, ostensibly the bag of black pearls he’d promised her. But I don’t actually think the pearls were the gift. He sent them via Loray and I think he’s the unspoken gift—a companion, someone worldly and open to usher and assist her in finding her feet in her new free world. And there is just something wonderful about that.

shards of a shattered soul

Book Review: Shards of a Shattered Soul, by S.C. Stokes

I purchased a paperback copy of S.C. StokesShards of a Shattered Soul (Strife of Souls, #1).

shards of a shattered soul

Bathed in Dragon’s fire, Vera Sandrinas has stared into the jaws of death and lived. 

With her dying breath she pleaded with the Allfather for her life, and it was granted.

But when war breaks out in heaven, the magic dividing the realms of the living and the dead is torn asunder.

As the undead rise, Vera learns that divine mercy always comes at a price.

Can Vera seal the rift between realms in time? Or will her debt cost her everything?

my review

This was an OK read, but I have a couple complaints. First off, I didn’t know it is a spinoff series when I bought it. (This annoys me so much. Why can’t authors make this more obvious?) And while I could read and follow it, I 100% felt I was missing a lot having not read the A Kingdom Divided series first. I wouldn’t suggest reading this on it’s own. You feel you’re missing a lot and then it’s not a complete story arc. So, you feel you’re missing both a beginning and an end.

Second, the description suggests Vera is the main character. I would posit that she, in fact, is not. Tristan, who appears to have been the main character in the A Kingdom Divided series (according to the blurbs) is the main character here too. Vera is a side character through whose eyes we get to see the gory that is Tristan. Maybe that will change as this series progresses, but as of the end of this book that’s my opinion.

Lastly, the whole thing is a little thin. You can see Stokes building a huge arc in what is a 225 page book. That means there isn’t a lot of depth to most of it. Some of this is, again, because it’s a spinoff and that needed character development and world building probably happened in the first series. But some of it is just that too much is skimmed over and explained in exposition. As a result you never feel you really connect with anyone or anything.

Having said all that, I liked the characters. The series-wide arc looks to be an interesting one, and the writing is quite readable.

song of shadow

Book Review: Song of Shadow, by Natalya Capello

I picked up a copy of Natalya Capello‘s Song of Shadow as an Amazon freebie, earlier this year.
song of shadow natalya capello

They said she was out of her mind. The dark truth will shake the foundations of the fae realm…

Lorelei refuses to believe her wild visions mean she’s insane. But despite her royal sidhe heritage, she’s banished to a remote priory to prevent her causing trouble. So when a priestess of the Elemental Order urges her to join a risky pilgrimage, she flees her prison and sails headlong into danger.

Traveling to an ancient land imbued with volatile magic, she chokes back her disbelief after unearthing evil sorcery that shouldn’t exist. And now that Lorelei holds the forbidden secrets, she fears it’s only a matter of time before the powerful Elphyne Empire silences her permanently. If the fae church’s ruthless assassins don’t hunt her down first…

Can Lorelei expose the sinister conspiracy before darkness falls forever?

 

my review

I gotta be honest. This has a great cover, but I was board stiff by it. It’s just so very linear. This happens, and then this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens. There is no build up of tension or feeling of being immersed in a broader story. And so very many of the things that happened were the group running into battle, getting injured, freeing someone, getting healed to run off and to the exact same thing again. It got redundant.

Then there is one of my biggest pet peeves. This book is labeled as book one. But there is apparently a novella that comes before it that really needs to have been read for some things to make sense. I am of the firm belief that if the prequel needs to be read (not just a bonus, but is an integral part of the story and plot), IT IS BOOK ONE OF THE SERIES.

I did like some of the characters, Wes in particular. And the mechanical writing is plenty readable. But I just couldn’t really ever get into it.