Silvia Moreno-Garcia Blends Mexican History and Mythology in Adventurous Novel

by | May 2, 2022

Mayan stone head from Mexico
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Last updated on March 28th, 2024

Featured image:  A stone Maya head / Photo from twenty20photos

“A feminist coming-of-age story, set in 1920s Mexico…” 

By Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman

When I lived in Mexico, I quickly discovered a local English bookstore called Between the Lines in Merida, run by Juanita  Stein (who’s from Vancouver). Juanita introduced me to the best-selling book Mexican Gothic and after I finished it, I returned to find more of Morena-Garcia’s writing. 

Gods of Jade and Shadow is not your typical travel book, but having lived in Merida, I was fascinated by the many mentions of its 1920 Spanish architecture, folklore and of course the Underworld. The storyline is unlikely: unhappy Casiopea Tun meets the Mayan god of death, who asks for her help dethroning his brother.  What follows is a romp across Mexico from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. If you are interested in Mayan archaeology or gods, this will be fascinating for you, particularly with our guest speaker, who is an expert in Mayan history.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a lighter read, and some might even say-  a feminist coming-of-age novel that shows how destiny, fate and magic are intertwined. I can’t wait for you to read it. 

About the author

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of several novels, including Velvet Was the Night, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow and Untamed Shore. She has also edited a number of anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. 


The Underworld was a cold, unhappy place and was believed to be the destination of most Maya after death. Heavenly bodies such as the Sun, the Moon, and Venus, were also thought to pass through the Underworld after they disappeared below the horizon every evening. (Wikipedia)

Yucatan Today, “Discover the Maya underworld”

BBC Travel: Journey into the Maya underworld”

“The Maya underworld” Canadian Museum of Civilization 

“Women in Maya Society” History on the Net – “During the Classical era, certain women held power as rulers in their cities, either as regent for an underage son or as widow of a ruler who died without an heir. Women also served as oracular priestesses at various sacred sites.”

Our Guest Speaker is an expert on the sacred feminine

Originally from Canada, Trudy has made Mérida, Yucatán her home since 2001. She created Iluminado Tours, and shortly after arriving, found her teacher Miguel Angel Vergara who then opened the door to the spiritual knowledge of the Maya.

Always interested in the emergence of the Sacred Feminine throughout the world, Trudy found herself channeling Lady Zac Kuuk, a Maya High Priestess from Palenque. She now shares these messages on the Maya Wisdom Circle. Here she encourages others to share their experiences in communicating directly with spirit and building important relationships in other realms.

Trudy is always eager to share her experiences, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the ancient teachings of the Maya. She joins Miguel Angel Vergara leading people to their own experiences on the magical sites of the ancient Maya, both in person and online. Her company, Casa K’in/Iluminado is dedicated to discovering the deep wisdom of the Maya and sharing that with others.   


woman in pink shirt and hat

Guest Speaker: Trudy Woodcock

Cuban santona smoking a cigar

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Book Club Discussion Questions (Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 8 pm EDT)

We may not get through all of these, but here are some thoughts to start our discussion!

1. What has your experience with Mexico been prior to this book? Are you familiar with the role that women played in Maya society? 

2. What was your favourite passage of the book and why?

3. Hun-Kamé takes Casiopea to Carnival during their quest.  Have you ever attended a large-scale community festival during your travels?  Did that experience change how you felt about the destination?

4. The author weaves rich traditions of Mexican myth and legend into the story.  Have you ever travelled somewhere where you felt that supernatural beliefs were part of the fabric of day-to-day life?

5. Casiopea tries to remember her father’s voice when he told her legends before bedtime, and gazes at the stars to feel close to him. Do you have special ways to remember lost loved ones?

6. Casiopea has very different feelings about travelling by water, train or automobile.  Do you have a favourite means of travel, or one that you dislike?

7. How was Casiopea’s relationship with Martín similar to the relationship between the two brothers, the gods Hun-Kamé and Vucub-Kamé?

8/ Casiopea’s transformation is something like a Cinderella story – but Hun-Kamé and Martín also evolve towards the end of the book.  What did you think of their transformation?

9. Does the book inspire you to visit Mexico?

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Now more than ever, we’re finding camaraderie and inspiration through novels. Join us each month as we discuss a different book, suggested by our community, about a faraway land.

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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