The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, 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.
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review, and can confirm all opinions are my own.
This book contains everything I enjoy about reading, getting the chance to learn about other cultures folklore/mythology, being swept away on epic adventures and having my heart stings tugged by an unforgettable romance. I can honestly say the only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it was a stand-alone and I would love the author to write more books in this world.
I read this book in less that 24 hours, the writing flows so effortlessly and I couldn’t help but get swept along with Casiopea as she gets the chance to have new experiences, meet demons and other mythological characters, visit places she never thought she would get the chance to see and fall in love. The authors descriptions are beautifully written and I couldn’t get enough of her insights into Mayan mythology. Though not knowing a whole lot about the culture I was quite chuffed with myself for already knowing bits about Xibalba, the land of the dead (Thank you The Road to El Dorado.)
The story switches between 3 perspectives; Casiopea, Martin, her cousin and Vucub Kame the current Lord of Xibalba.
Casiopea is a fantastically written character. Given a rough hand in life by her family who didn’t agree with the man her mother married, when her father dies and she has to move back in with her Grandfather and Aunts she is relegated to being not much better than the serving staff. She dreams of a life out of Uukumil and when fate one day sees her punished to stay in the house by herself. she decides to defy her Grandfather and use the key he keeps around his neck to find what he keeps so thoroughly hidden. Little does she know this one decision could change not only her life but the world. Equal parts witty and feisty, even when going up against Hun Kame The Lord of Xibalba, Casiopea does not back down. It was wondrously refreshing seeing the female character being the one holding all the cards, and knowing if it wasn’t for her Hun Kame would have been dead multiple times over.
Martin, Casiopea’s cousin, gets dragged into the mythological world once Vucub Kame realises his brother has been set free. Their Grandfather being too old to help, it falls to Martin to follow the Gods orders and try and retrieve his cousin and find Hun Kame. He’s not an overly likeable character, you see his interactions with Casiopea early on in the book and realise he is entitled and sees her to be below him. Because of this I took great pleasure in seeing him dread every interaction with the God and being forced to do multiple things out of his comfort zone. His parts of the book were quite humorous, and I enjoyed reading from his perspective.
Vucub Kame, The Lord of Xibalba. He trapped and killed his brother Hun Kame when he did not agree with Vucub Kame’s ideas for improving the Underworld. He is a character that seems overly sure of his victory, and I took great pleasure in seeing him realise that Casiopea may be the one factor he could not have planned for.
I couldn’t get enough of the romance in this book. I found myself so invested in Casiopea and Hun Kame’s outcomes. Their relationship was written beautifully, we see the effects of Hun Kame’s presence on Casiopea (not always good) and we see how the Casiopea’s humanity affects him in positive ways. Though probably a predictable ending, I still couldn’t get enough of their slow burn relationship and definitely shed a tear or two.
I know I’ve said this a lot but 2019 seems to be the year for epic books. This is another 5/5 read and honestly if you’re anything like me and love learning about other cultures when reading then get this pre-ordered now. For fans of Katherine Arden and Naomi Novik, you will not be let down by this sweeping adventure and these overly lovable characters.