Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

The Origin Myths of Mexico

By: David Bowles

A contemporary retelling of the origin myths of Mexico, crafted as a single cohesive narrative.



A contemporary retelling of the origin myths of Mexico, crafter as a single cohesive narrative.

The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In the course of that history we learn about the Creator Twins, Feathered Serpent, and Dark Heart of Sky, and how they built the world on a leviathan's back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes—elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

David Bowles stitches together the fragmented mythology of pre-Colombian Mexico into an exciting, unified narrative in the tradition of William BuckÍs Ramayana, Robert Fagles' Iliad, and Neil Gaiman's Norse Myths. Readers of Norse and Greek mythologies will delight in this rich retelling of stories less explored.

Legends and myths captured David Bowles' imagination as a young Latino reader. He was fascinated with epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Despite growing up on the United States/Mexico border, he had never read a single Aztec or Mayan myth until he was in college. This experience inspired him to reconnect with that forgotten past. Several of his previous books have incorporated themes from ancient Mexican myths.

Awards and Accomodations

Best YA Books of 2018 that Feed Imaginations, Kirkus Reviews
Best Young Adult Book Award, Texas Institute of Letters

9 reviews for Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

  1. School Library Journal
    Vibrant and vital, this collection is an essential addition to library collections.—Jessica Agudelo

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    Mexican-American Pura Belpré honoree David Bowles brings his passion and expertise to this new compilation of mythological tales from Mexico … Despite the darkness that pervades most of the tales, Bowles’ dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid.

  3. World Literature Today
    A masterful storyteller, Bowles packs the richness of the Mesoamerican cosmos into every sentence, bringing to vivid life ancient characters who are by turns funny, heartbreaking, lovable, grotesque, and venerable. … Bowles’s Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky will be crucial to Mesoamerican literary and cultural studies as well as important to Mexican and Mexican American rediscoveries of effaced pasts for many years to come. Scholars and readers of mythology and folklore: add this to the classics. —Sean Guynes-Vishniac

  4. La Bloga
    David Bowles’ Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico deserves to be a best-seller for all the right reasons: accessible, informative, essential. It’s destined to be the cultural anthropology equivalent to Occupied America for C/S majors.

  5. Avalinah’s Books
    Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky was a spectacular collection of myths, written in an easy to follow way, arranged chronologically, and truly epic enough to just read them casually, without the aim of education or research. —Evelina Avalinah

  6. Midwest Book Report
    A fully absorbing and inherently fascinating read throughout, Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico is an impressive work of simply outstanding scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a two-page Pronunciation Guide, an eight-page Glossary, a four-page listing of Source Notes, and a two-page Bibliography.

  7. Barnes & Noble Kids Blog
    An important, well-written, and compelling text that teaches us about a lost history and the rich and too often forgotten magic of various groups like the Aztec, Maya, and Toltecs. —J.C. Cervantes, author of The Storm Runner

  8. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book
    While certainly a treasure trove for storytellers, this is also highly valuable as a classroom resource for units on Mesoamerican history or examinations of how a place’s myths are inherently linked to its history. —Kate Quealy-Gainer

  9. Reading Style
    “An excellent resource for those interested in exploring epic tales, world mythologies, history and culture of Mexico. Highly recommended for students, teachers, historians and storytellers.”—Barbara Moon

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