Gods of Jade and Shadow
Moreno-Garcia has been one of my favorite writers for a long time, and GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW continues her streak of quietly profound, distinctive, fantastical stories. I loved it as a story, and I loved it as a counter-mainstream work of subversiveness. I want to write like this; maybe someday I'll get close.
Some more specific thoughts:
The narrative voice is not what all the current writing advice would say is necessary to publish novels in 2019. Moreno-Garcia uses an omniscient narrator that speaks in a more 'storytelling' voice, counter to the rule that writers must 'show, don't tell.' It works very well, imo.
She has a blog post about the storytelling techniques she used, which you should go read immediately, because it's a lovely example of the quiet directness that I so admire in Moreno-Garcia's writing and also makes damn good points about writing. She points out the deliberateness of her artistic choices, which she uses to evoke the book's setting, 1920s Mexico, and the voice of her great-grandmother, who first told her stories of that world. Plus:
"When we think of “diverse” books, we often think about elements such as clothing or food to denote a certain culture. But there are more subtleties that place the reader in a certain time and place. The practices of telling and showing are one of these subtleties."
I read this blog post right after reading the book, and I may have fist-pumped a bit when I did. First of all, I hate rules, because I have a slight touch of oppositional defiance disorder.
Second of all, I think the biases we hold are ingrained in us more deeply than we realize, and that not only are we given ideas about the world, we're given the voice those ideas are explained in, and the feeling that it's the only voice in the world worth listening to. Getting rid of the ideas is much easier than removing the voice itself from our inner ears--but until we do, we're vulnerable to being told other bullshit by that same voice, and being more prone to believing it.
Anyway, that's all abstract and the real reason you should read this book is because it's a cracking great story, with brothers betraying each other; weird, angry family dynamics; and a pretty cool girl coming of age and getting what she wants in life; Jazz Age, post-revolution Mexico; and the land of the dead being ultra-dramatic in grayscale. It's fun! You'll like it!