Gods of Jade and Shadow

Ballantine. Aug. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780525620754. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525620761. FANTASY
This latest stand-alone from Moreno-Garcia (Signal to Noise; The Beautiful Ones) is a stirring historical fantasy set in the Roaring Twenties and steeped in Mayan mythology. Headstrong Casiopea Tun and her mother are treated horribly by their more wealthy relations. She’s been her grandfather’s maid ever since they returned to their small village after her father’s death. When she discovers the bones of a decapitated Mayan god of death in the patriarch’s secret chest, she sets off a chain of events that could not only change her fortunes but also the fate of the world. The revived (and broodingly handsome) Hun-Kamé takes her on a cross-country adventure—from the Yucatán to Mexico City, Arizona, and more—in search of his missing body parts, which his twin brother and rival has scattered among demons, sorcerers, and others. Lavish clothes; jazzy music; and ruminations on life, death, fate, and the cosmos combine with blood-drenched nightmares, grisly religious rituals, and road-trip high jinks. An author’s note and glossary of Spanish and Nahuatl terms further explores the source material. Snappy dialog, stellar worldbuilding, lyrical prose, and a slow-burn romance make this a standout.
VERDICT Purchase where Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, and N.K. Jemisin are popular. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/19.]
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