ARC Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow

gods of jade and shadow
Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author:
 Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Del Rey
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Mexican characters, Mayan death gods, mortal/immortal slowburn
Recommended Readers: Mythology lovers and those seeking well-written, diverse stories
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, where have you been all my life? How did you know that I am a reader who constantly craves that miraculous blend of historical fiction and fantasy? That I love gods and mythology and that surreal line that divides immortals from mortals?

Gods of Jade and Shadow transports readers to Mexico in the 1920s–a period I’ve often loved but which is commonly viewed through a white, American lens. Seeing the Jazz Age and flapper fashion juxtaposed with Mexican culture and conservative Catholicism was a treat, but the real fun begins when Casiopea Tun opens a chest locked in her grandfather’s estate. There, the bones inside form into Mayan death god Hun-Kamé.

Betrayed by his brother, Vucub-Kamé, and locked away for fifty years, Hun-Kamé seeks the parts of himself that were stolen from him and to reclaim his place as the Lord of Xibalba. With a bone shard embedded in her hand, Casiopea must accompany the god on his journey, but leaving the life of a thankless servant in her grandfather’s house makes the choice an easy one. Instead, Casiopea must discover the life she wants to live and ensure Hun-Kamé succeeds against his brother because if he does not, it will mean the demise of them both.

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Book Review: The Night Tiger

the night tiger

Title: The Night Tiger
Author:
 Yangsze Choo
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
Version: ARC – Paperback
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Malaysian/Chinese characters and culture
Recommended Readers: Fans of rich settings, diverse characters, and a dash of the superstitious
Rating: ★★★★★

Both my roommate and I received ARCs of The Night Tiger, one an ebook from NetGalley and one a beautiful paperback edition from the publisher, so thank you both for each of these. This review is given in exchange and is my honest and true opinion.

Mark down Yangsze Choo as officially being one of my favorite authors. It’s unfair how wonderful her sophomore novel, The Night Tiger, is—or it would be, if it weren’t so apparent how much time, care, and hard work Choo put into her story. While I’ll go on record to say that her first book, The Ghost Bride, is my favorite of the two, there’s no denying how much I enjoyed The Night Tiger. It’s a book that will stay with me. Her style in particular is that perfect blend of historical fiction and magical realism that I love to death but is so hard to find, so this is definitely going on my favorites shelf.

The novel follows three protagonists: Ren, an 11-year-old Chinese houseboy; Ji Lin, a young woman who dreams of pursuing medicine but must work as a dressmaker and moonlight as a dancehall girl, both because of her gender and to pay off her mother’s high-interest Mahjong debts; and William, an Englishman with a murky past. Their fates and those of other characters collide as Ren attempts to fulfill the final request of his late master: locate his severed finger and reunite it with his body before 49 days are up, or his master’s spirit will roam the earth as a night tiger, unable to rest forever.

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Book Review: Blanca & Roja

blanca and roja
Title:
 Blanca & Roja
Author:
 Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult/Magical Realism
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Latina protagonists, LGBTQ+ characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of magical realism and fairytale retellings
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Man, am I ever disappointed at the rating I have to give Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. I’m certain it’s purely the result of “It’s not you, it’s me” combined with a healthy dose of “wrong book, wrong time.”

Let me preface this by saying there is nothing inherently bad about this book. In fact, McLemore’s prose masterfully captures the dream-like quality you expect of magical realism along with a dash of purple prose that maintains its beauty without being excessive.

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Book Review: Iron Cast

iron cast

Title: Iron Cast
Author:
 Destiny Soria
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQ+ characters, Friendship-focused
Recommended Readers: Fans of magical realism, 1920s-era
Rating: ★★★★★

Ah, gosh, I loved this. Magical realism, 1919 setting, diverse characters, thoughtful prose. Consider me swept away!

Iron Cast is Destiny Soria’s debut, standalone novel, and I am an instant fan. The cover alone stole my breath, and the contents inside delivered, taking me to this historical yet magical Boston that I didn’t want to leave.

The novel follows the fierce friendship of two young women, Ada Navarra, the daughter of immigrants, and Corinne Wells, the daughter of an elite Boston family. Neither of them seem to have much in common besides the fact that they’re both hemopaths, or people whose blood cannot tolerate iron and who possess certain gifts. Corinne is a wordsmith who can bring people into her thrall, experiencing any emotion and memory she desires by reciting poetry, and Ada, a songsmith, does the same with her violin.

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