Tag Archives: Mythological Creatures

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Review by Anika F. ’21)

Gods of Jade and ShadowGods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At this point in my fantasy journey, it’s hard for stand-alones to impress me. Some are too short and don’t allow for enough world building or character development. Others are large tomes (like The Priory of the Orange Tree) that are pretty much a full series condensed into a brick. Similarly, Young Adult fantasy is not something I reach for, since I prefer the depth and nuance of New Adult or Adult novels.

Yet, somehow, Gods of Jade and Shadow, clearly both a decently lengthy stand-alone and a Young Adult fantasy, surprised me. While the characters and plot are interesting, what really drew me to the book was the descriptions and the storytelling. Silvia Moreno Garcia creates these lush settings with hints of magic, crossing the boundaries between our world and mythology.

Even if you’re not a big YA fantasy reader, I still think there’s a lot to gain from this book. It discusses racism and discrimination, feminism and misogyny, and the importance of charting your own path, even when your family holds you back. —Review by Anika F. ’21

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise of The Golem and the Jinni has an irresistible sort of cosmic balance to it: when a female homunculus named Chava and a male fire spirit named Ahmad collide in nineteenth-century New York, earth meets fire, the mythology of the West means that of the East, the Judeo-Christian tradition collides with one far older, and the ancient past meets the modern era. If only this novel could shed its affected writing, its chronically flat characters, and about a hundred and fifty pages, it might be able to meet this impressive potential. Wecker makes the unfortunate decision to relay the entire story in a faux-historical voice, weighing her sentences down with unwieldy vocabulary and convoluted syntax in a misguided effort (like so many other writers of historical fiction) to stay true to the literary style of the time she portrays. Uninspired prose might be excusable, but, in my view, weak characters are not; populating a fantasy world as Wecker does with transparent characters, single-minded and invariably “good at heart,” is a cardinal sin in any sort of fiction. I have to give the author credit for the alluring symmetry of her premise, but her execution is unremarkable and doesn’t nearly deserve the 500 pages it takes up.

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (review by Emily C. ’18)

The Scorpio RacesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the beginning of each November, riders on the tiny island of Thisby attempt to capture and gain control of spirited water horses in a deadly contest: the Scorpio Races. From this fierce battle of horsemanship and grudges two particular individuals emerge–Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly. Though they ride for different reasons, when their paths cross an unlikely bond is formed. However, the issues Sean and Puck face are not limited to survival in this perilous competition; Stiefvater weaves a web of emotional and practical intricacies that range from sexism to finance to hostile and dangerous schemes. Maggie Stiefvater outdoes herself once again with a singular legend-inspired plot, well-developed characters, and touches of heartwarming loyalty and devotion.

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