Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow

Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Casiopea Tun dreams of a life beyond her small Mexico town until she accidentally releases a God of Death and her time is soon limited, as she is now bound to the Mayan God, Hun-Kamé, and must help him regain his missing body parts in order to reclaim his throne in Xibalba (Mayan Underground) from his thieving brother. Failure means Casiopea will lose herself and with the clock slowly ticking, together, they embark on a life-changing journey that has Casiopea leaving the clutches of her strict grandfather and experience an adventure of a lifestyle.

The central tale focuses on Casiopea and her journey from sheltered girl to a confident person who rediscovers the world beyond her small village. Her determination to go beyond what is expected of her is entertaining and thrilling. A tale of a young woman and a God with their fates tied so close together, the world they discover takes centre stage. Casiopea and Vacub-Kamé hurry though Mexico in the 1920s, beginning in Yucatán and onwards into northern Mexico. The bright lights of a changing world is a brilliant contrast with the darkness of Xibalba, crafty magic and the mischievous demons that reside beside the civilians. I really enjoyed the level of detail as you can really imagine the world unfold in front you as Casiopea experiences it all for the first time.

I really loved the inclusion of Casiopea’s cousin. Like Casiopea, he is forced to embark on a journey to bring his cousin back home. I love that it gave deeper depth to how he has come to hate his cousin and where is narcissistic tendencies comes from, and how easily things could’ve been different between them if it wasn’t for their upbringing. I wasn’t a massive fan of Vacub-Kamé, Hun-Kamé’s brother, and his chapters, but appreciate how it showed a difference in leadership between the brothers and added a lot to the major theme of family that runs through this novel.

In terms of pacing, it was quite even between the journeys to each body parts, but I do have to admit, each obstacle does give up rather easily which was quite jarring considering the stakes and risks presented to us. However, I did really enjoy each side character that we meet. Most we don’t ever meet again but were definitely memorable enough to enjoy. I especially really adored the lull moments between each trip where Casiopea and Hun-Kamé get to know each other. I’ve never been a big fan of romances where one person is like a thousand years older than the one, but each to their own, I guess.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think any other reader will enjoy how Moreno-Garcia’s blend of mythology and history. Gods of Jade and Shadow was an enchanting story of self-discovery with an ending that is satisfying but could hint at a potential sequel. If so, I would gladly read whatever comes next.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR

Latest posts 

Advertisements

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Roger Weathersby barely scrapes by making a living out of stealing corpses for medical schools, dreaming that one day, he’ll be a reputable doctor that saves lives. But when he’s framed for a murder of one of his steals, he is forced to reunite with an old friend to save the city and, hopefully, clear his name. The old friend in question is none of than Princess Sibylla, who returns to her childhood city on request of her Queen grandmother, who is keen to see she is married off to her cousin to further their magical bloodline. But when her own suspicions tie in with Roger’s situation, it’s up to them to save the country before it’s torn apart.

I’m not going to lie, this was quite a surprising read. The Resurrectionist of Caligo is quite intriguing. The royal family of Myrcnia rule by divine right due to their magical skills that comes from their bloodline. Everyone has a different ability, and due to it only being manifested in a person’s biology, the reigning Queen is quite hellbent on making sure it stays in the family. And that means killing off any illegitimate children and only allowing marriages within the family. And this has Sibylla on edge because her half-brother is hidden within the city and she is sure Queen is close to discovering his identity. Roger is in a strange position where in the town, the people are restless, and science is growing and questioning the supremacy of the magical users. A Resurrectionist is simply a cooler term for grave snatcher in the name of science. And Roger begins to notice a pattern in the corpses he has been collecting and the victims of a well-known strangler who has been terrorising the women of Caligo.

I loved the magical features and the development of the political intrigue of this universe. But, the world-building is a hit or miss situations where within Myrcnia, and its capital Caligo, it is quite packed with a lot of detail. I was quite impressed with the quasi-Victorian design that is set up. Trimboli and Zaloga draw on the challenges of the Victorian-era lifestyle, echoing a steampunk design, which creates the Myrcnia’s landscape. A pivot part of Sibylla’s arc is her interaction with the neighbouring country, but I was disappointed how bland they were in comparison. You get a lot of rich detail within the city, but they’ve resorted to merely being the outsiders, and it just didn’t sit well with me.  

I personally loved Sibylla and Roger as characters in their own right, but the story really hinges on their childhood connection and, personally, I never really caught on to what drew them together. And a lot of their communication is passed between Roger’s half-brother, who is also Sibylla’s warden.  They appear to despise each other, and there’s little given to understand their connection, aside from their forced situation.

Overall, I found The Resurrectionist of Caligo quite entertaining. It was quick, easy to read. The characters are great, I enjoyed the mix of comedy and mystery, and it was quite heart-warming in most scenes. The magic system is by far the most exciting aspect of this novel, but not as utilised as you would expect. But I would definitely be interested in checking out in any future sequels.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Latest posts 

Review: Sadie

Review: Sadie

Rating: ★★★★★

“And Sadie, if you’re out there, please let me know.

Because I can’t take another dead girl. “

After her little sister was murdered, Sadie goes in search for revenge. West McCray is a radio personality who stumbles across her story and begins his own podcast to track her down. Slowly, he starts to trace Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened before it’s too late.

Sadie hits hard. Words like perfect and amazing does not do this book justice.  Sadie is basically half book/half podcast. We follow Sadie as she leaves her dead-end town in search of the man who hurt her sister. Sadie having raised her sister, Claire, from a young age, she loved her sister fiercely. When she’s gone, she’s thrown in a path to find her sister’s murderer and kill him. Radio star West McCray follows a bit after, filling in the gaps that Sadie doesn’t mention and reveals all new information that she wouldn’t have known.

Sadie was a haunting read, a story of loss and betrayal, anger and grief. These two sisters relied on each other to handle the ugliness of the world around them, the world that failed to protect them. The sense of urgency you get and the feeling of rush, especially in the audiobook, is honestly exhilarating.

The podcast portions were so great and worked well, especially when you alternate from the messiness of Sadie’s mind as she’s coming to terms with the fact that her journey must end with a dead man. West McCray’s voice is soothing, and his podcast provides a different insight into Sadie’s life.

Overall, this story is uncomfortable and powerful. It’s cast of characters genuine and believable. I would recommend listening to the audiobook because it honestly was an experience.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Content warning: pedophilia, child sexual abuse, parental neglect, mentions and descriptions of substance abuse.

Review: Circe

Review: Circe

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Madeline Miller creates a new voice in her second novel which follows the life of Circe, daughter of Helios, a goddess born with a human voice. Mocked for her lack of power in a world of Gods, Circe accidentally uncovers a skill that sees her banished forever to the island of Aiaia. She is upset, outcasted forever and alone, Circe turns to take revenge on those who wish to exploit her by transforming any ship of men who enter her island into a herd of pigs. But as time goes by, Circe finds that she can’t escape the world forever.

Miller clearly has a talent in giving a voice to characters not usually heard. I really loved how she reinterpreted the role of Cire. While making nods to other parts of Greek Mythology, Circe is clearly a story of its own, unpeeling the layers of Circe that make her a more substantial person than we see in The Odyssey.

The story of Circe explores the use of power and how it can be easily abused and while Circe’s transmutation power play an essential part so does her transformation as a character as she goes through independence, love and motherhood and how, despite it all, she still had hope. Like in The Song of Achilles, other key figures from Greek mythology are mentioned and also take centre stage without overpowering Circe’s story, including the well-known arrival of Odysseus and how their lives are changed from then on.

This book is thrilling with extreme drama Circe, and despite the constant presence of well-known characters like Zeus and Athena, Circe stands strong and finds her real place in a world where she’s told she’s nothing.

Overall, Miller’s ability to re-present the classics never fails to amaze me. Seven years since TSOA was first published, four years since I had read it, and I can definitely say that Circe was definitely worth the wait.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Review: The Book of M

Review: The Book of M

Rating: ★★★☆☆

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

A future where a global epidemic is spreading and causing the world’s population to lose their shadows and later their memories. Husband and wife duo Ory and Max have managed to hide from the brunt of the disasters. That is until Max loses her shadow. Armed with just a tape recorder to document her memories, Max leaves their abandoned hotel. And Ory sets out on a dangerous journey to reunite with his wife. The chapters alternate between the two and two others, another survivor and another person known as “The One Who Gathers.”

The Book of M is a messy read, and I mean that in a good way. A story where each chapter ends with another hundred questions to ask. We follow Ory and Max survive in different circumstances. Max is running anywhere Ory can’t find her and then goes in search with a group of people for a cure for her memory loss. Ory, in search of Max, ends up in various dangerous circumstances where he finally interacts with the world that he, up until now, had ignored under the safety of his area. He meets the good, the bad, makes new friends and finds old ones.

The Book of M was a strangely riveting read. The writing is vivid which compliments and adds the foreboding world building. The story starts with the world in an unknown position, and as the book switches between the four different perspectives, the world comes back to together, providing different views on a world almost forgotten. It read like a puzzle, one that slowly meshed together and once it did, it was an absolutely fantastic book to finish.

Overall, while I did have some issues with the pacing, especially towards the middle of the book, The Book of M was still an engaging and imaginative read.


GOODREADS | AMAZON BOOK DEPOSITORY

Content warning: blood, death, violence, the use of the “bury your gays” trope. I know I’m missing quite a bit but if you’ve read the book, please tell me if I’ve missed something out.

Book Review: The Poppy War

Book Review: The Poppy War

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Rin is only sixteen when she passes the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the best and brightest, and enters the Academy to escape an arranged marriage and finally prove herself worthy. However, passing the test and training at the academy, Rin learns, are two opposite things. Once she is there, she instantly targeted for her skin, her poverty and her gender. A war orphan from the Rooster Province should not last a day in the Academy. While a war grows between the Empire and the Federation of Mugen, Rin’s powers may be the only thing that can save her people. Until she learns that she holds a skill that could cost her the price of her humanity.

I do not doubt that this book will top most end of year lists. Believe the hype. It is truly worth it.

Check the content warnings at the end because The Poppy War is not a dull read. It is fast-paced, bloody and detailed with its scenes of violence. Fang ‘Rin’ Runin is an ambitious war orphan who blackmails her way into the Keju examination and is forced to contend with students whose privilege put their experience years before her own. Her drive to do better and take a reign in her life is compelling and fantastic to read.

The cast of characters we interact with are extraordinarily diverse and intricately detailed with complex and unique characterisations. You hate them on one page but slowly sympathise with the next. Their choices are dangerous but realistic. The story is uncomfortable but so real to read.

Many scenes are, I warn, very, very dark. Horrifically violent that felt physically ill to read at multiple points. If you have looked into the book world, The Poppy War is everywhere. Moreover, rightfully so. However, take note before you jump into this book.

The scale and depth of The Poppy War make this book nothing short of a masterpiece. The strong world-building with its detailed and crafted characters as they try to survive this brutal and devastating world.

I’m excited to see where it will go from here and what we will expect to see in future novels. Watch out for this series. It’s here to stay.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Trigger/Content Warnings: self-harm, suicide, rape, sexual assault, murder, genocide, massacres, torture, mutilation, drug abuse, ableism, physical and emotional abuse.