A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars
Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds. Sante was found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. They travel around contemporary southern Europe, living off-grid and performing circus tricks for money. Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars Details

TitleA Jigsaw of Fire and Stars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 7th, 2017
PublisherZephyr
ISBN-139781786695482
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Contemporary

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars Review

  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    First things first, can we talk about that cover??? It gives me life with its beauty!! Simply gorgeous. I really wanted to love this book. The premise sounds so good and the potential is all there. A book exploring the status of refugees, exploring the ugly depths of human trafficking... Fantastic right???But I think where the book went wrong for me was the actual genre. This is very much a book of the magical realism variety and in my opinion it didn't work here. I'd like to point out that magi First things first, can we talk about that cover??? It gives me life with its beauty!! Simply gorgeous. I really wanted to love this book. The premise sounds so good and the potential is all there. A book exploring the status of refugees, exploring the ugly depths of human trafficking... Fantastic right???But I think where the book went wrong for me was the actual genre. This is very much a book of the magical realism variety and in my opinion it didn't work here. I'd like to point out that magical realism in YA is actually my favourite genre so it pains me to say this. But I found the story to be initially very hard to get into and at times the writing just got very muddy as it mixed the fantastical with the harsh realities of what was actually occurring. I enjoyed the main theme of the book: the MC Sante's exploration into her identity was very touching and it was quite haunting to think here was this beautiful, bright young girl who viewed a bird as her maternal symbol because she did not know who she was. All she had were these vague memories of a shipwreck. It just really brought home to me as a reader the risks that refugees have to take just to escape to freedom. How Sante's birth family risked and lost their lives in the quest for a somewhere to feel safe, a place to call home. But this emotional search for her true identity was marred by a confusing plot line and supporting characters that I could never truly connect with because of the writing style. I very much felt that this was a book missing those initial basic introductions to the cast and also to the world that they inhabit. Sadly for me the writing became rather tedious to read and the book fell flat and dull. I do think that the author has wonderful potential but is in need of some help with story editing regarding setting the scene for the book (aka world building) and a guiding hand with plot structure.two and a half stars*A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher Head of Zeus, Zephyr via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThis was my 400th rating on Goodreads, so yay.I had heard little to nothing about A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars prior to requesting it on NetGalley. I've been trying to expand my reading of literature by authors of cultures foreign to my own and the book's premise spoke to me, so I was more than delighted than we'd been accepted for this novel.A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is pitched as a contemporary but I believe magical or animist realism describes it best. The story combines contemporary 3.5 starsThis was my 400th rating on Goodreads, so yay.I had heard little to nothing about A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars prior to requesting it on NetGalley. I've been trying to expand my reading of literature by authors of cultures foreign to my own and the book's premise spoke to me, so I was more than delighted than we'd been accepted for this novel.A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is pitched as a contemporary but I believe magical or animist realism describes it best. The story combines contemporary themes such as people-trafficking, the flow of refugees from Africa to Europe, and the search for identity and belonging with magical elements of African folklore.If this storyline had a rhythm, it'd be a quiet one. Badoe laid the focus on Sante's past, her discovery of self, and her struggles rather than spinning a fast-paced plot with twists and turns. Character-driven as it was, A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars delved into intra- and interpersonal developments. Where the Ghanaian main character was concerned, the storyline involved a lot of dreaming and remembering and interactions with ancestral spirits, which slowed down the pace but gave it a special touch. I love human-animal relationships in literature, so the close bond between Sante and her golden eagle Priss was delightful to me. Badoe brought the – what I believe to be Ghanaian – folklore to life with its images rich in colour, making the spirits of the dead an integral part of the story and the theme of redemption and justice. I was curious how an author of Ghanaian heritage was going to handle questions of race and 'othering'. From Sante's point of view, there seemed to be a wider gap between civilised and travelling folk than dark- and fair-skinned people, but Badoe allowed adult characters to voice political views. Badoe addressed the dehumanisation of refugees and the sinking of their ships at our doorstep in a subtle manner, I thought, and raised the focal point of our lives' worth depending on our skin colour. Though there are, of course, many points of view to be considered with regard to the flow of refugees, the voice of an African refugee girl who survived the sinking of her boat is a powerful and relevant one. Badoe also beautifully illustrated this dehumanisation with the spirits of the dead who had come to raise their voices and make their deaths meaningful. "Strangers pitch up on our shores and we herd them into camps. They come in broken boats and we let them drown." Although the plot certainly involved the horrors of people-trafficking, I didn't feel like this was the story's core at all. On one hand, this disappointed me because the book is pitched as a contemporary read, and I expected to see a broad scope of this issue; on the other hand, I hadn't bargained for so much magical realism which was a pleasant surprise. I think I would have preferred it, though, if Badoe had zeroed in on one central theme, rather than trying to combine several contemporary issues in one short book.The exquisite prose further underpinned the book's whimsical atmosphere. I did feel, however, that the storytelling (as well as any romantic content) had a juvenile touch, so I'd place A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars in the younger section of YA. At fourteen, Sante was a young narrator but her voice captured me from the first page nevertheless. Relationships were certainly part of the storyline, yet mostly took place of an emotional level (as in "crushes") rather than a physical one, which was absolutely fine by me. What Badoe did well was depicting the less pretty sides of romantic feelings, such as jealousy and disagreements. It is noteworthy that A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars features an f/f romance (involving a side character), which almost seemed more important than the main character's relationship.Overall, A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars addresses important themes, narrated by an authentic main character and enhanced by African folklore, and excites with a whimsical note and lovely writing. With regard to its themes, I loved how the story communicated through images, for example the spirits, more than through words. However, I feel like the story swayed between several points of focus, capturing neither at the end. Both the dehumanisation of refugees/migrants and people-trafficking are relevant, but I'd have preferred a more in-depth discussion on one topic rather than having several issues addressed briefly, especially since the book was really short.** I received an eARC of this book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotations may be subject to change in the final copy.**
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book to be highly confusing. It was too short to do what it set out to achieve, namely combining magical realism and Sante's story with the story of the circus and establishing characters and settings. The aspect I enjoyed most was Sante as a character and the story of her parents and the discussion of refugees. What I disliked most was the confusing plot. I didn't really understand the role of the magic throughout and I was forced to reread passages of the plot to really get what w I found this book to be highly confusing. It was too short to do what it set out to achieve, namely combining magical realism and Sante's story with the story of the circus and establishing characters and settings. The aspect I enjoyed most was Sante as a character and the story of her parents and the discussion of refugees. What I disliked most was the confusing plot. I didn't really understand the role of the magic throughout and I was forced to reread passages of the plot to really get what was going on. Furthermore, I found that the characters other than Sante were really underdeveloped and two dimensional. I also found the writing style wasn't really to my taste and I not come to like Badoe's voice all that much.Overall, this is a book that doesn't live up to the promise of its glorious cover but I am glad to see YA books by BAME authors being published in the U.K. even if I wasn't taken with this one.
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  • Aoife
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book from Head of Zeus/Zephry in exchange for an honest review.Full video review to come.Sante Williams is part of a travelling circus family led by Mama Rose who found Sante as a baby, washed ashore in a trunk full of jewels and other strange objects. Now 14 years old, Sante is suddenly about to discover the truth about where she really comes from and avenge the loss she experienced at so young an age. This book was a wonderful, quirky tale full of love, strength, I received a free copy of this book from Head of Zeus/Zephry in exchange for an honest review.Full video review to come.Sante Williams is part of a travelling circus family led by Mama Rose who found Sante as a baby, washed ashore in a trunk full of jewels and other strange objects. Now 14 years old, Sante is suddenly about to discover the truth about where she really comes from and avenge the loss she experienced at so young an age. This book was a wonderful, quirky tale full of love, strength, friendship and magic. The story flowed really well and i really loved Sante as a character and the connection she had to others around her like Priss and Cobra. Also just need to add in here now delicious the cover is for this, absolutely stunning.This story was just magical, beautiful and evocative but it also touched upon darker things like sex trafficking, especially underage children. It also brushed upon the topic of immigrants and how often people fleeing their own country for a better life are scammed by those who promise to take them to a better place, and they end up dying in the middle of a foreign ocean.I just think this book and Yaba Badoe was able to blend the seriousness of a lot of the things Sante was facing up against with the beauty and freedom that was the subtle magic she possessed and the type that Cobra and Cat had as well. I really enjoyed it, and I also loved the glimpses into the circus life and the different acts they all performed.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a beautiful book inside and out, I mean have you even seen that cover? Talk about stunning! Luckily the story matches up to it or I'd have been really disappointed. This is the story of fourteen year old Sante, a young girl who was adopted into a travelling family circus after they found her washed up on a beach as a baby in a box full of treasure. Sante knows very little about where she came from apart from having a recurring nightmare about a shipwreck but when he A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a beautiful book inside and out, I mean have you even seen that cover? Talk about stunning! Luckily the story matches up to it or I'd have been really disappointed. This is the story of fourteen year old Sante, a young girl who was adopted into a travelling family circus after they found her washed up on a beach as a baby in a box full of treasure. Sante knows very little about where she came from apart from having a recurring nightmare about a shipwreck but when her path crosses with someone she remembers from her dream secrets start to unravel and Sante finds herself in danger.At a time when there is such a huge refugee crisis I think it's incredibly important to have more books like this one, books that touch on some of the horrific things that can refugees suffer, the way they are so desperate to escape their current situation that they will give every last penny they have for the chance of reaching somewhere better and how unscrupulous criminals prey on them and abuse their trust. This book does touch on some darker themes such as people trafficking and also underage sex work but it doesn't go into graphic details and is still suitable for a younger audience. It would be very easy for this kind of story to become too dark and depressing to read but Yaba Badoe has lightened it up & just enough with a touch of magical realism. Her writing is rich and evocative and I was completely drawn into Sante's world.I think I would have liked the story to be a little longer, just so we could spend more time with Sante and her adopted family and seen more of their life travelling and entertaining tourists for money, they had quite a unique show thanks to the abilities each of the performers brought to the tale and I would have loved to spend more time on that side of things. I also would have liked more time devoted to Scarlett's story but I really enjoyed the way Sante was able to communicate with the ghosts of her birth family and was able to help them get vengeance for the way they died.A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars was a fantastic debut from Yaba Badoe and it's definitely left me interested to see what she writes in the future. I'd love to read more in this vein from her in the future, especially bringing into play more of the Ghanian mythology and the magic we saw from Sante here.Source: Received from Zephyr in exchange for an honest review
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  • Sinead (Huntress of Diverse Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!I received an ARC of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars from Netgalley. I had chosen to read it because the cover was so beautiful and I really loved the blurb, it sounded incredibly promising.It's #ownvoices for Ghanian representation.__The writing style is quite unique in this book. It’s very fast-paced, packed with action and dramatic scenes, and the sentences are quite short, thus making it seem as though it were a movie. However, Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!I received an ARC of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars from Netgalley. I had chosen to read it because the cover was so beautiful and I really loved the blurb, it sounded incredibly promising.It's #ownvoices for Ghanian representation.__The writing style is quite unique in this book. It’s very fast-paced, packed with action and dramatic scenes, and the sentences are quite short, thus making it seem as though it were a movie. However, I found the writing style rather confusing at times because it was too jaggered and I got lost easily. For example, I didn’t know what she was referring to when Sante was talking about “his greens” , and only realised after a while that she meant his green eyes.There are two relationships in this book. The second relationship (which is between two girls), happens out of nowhere, they are immediately together, but they don’t know anything about each other, and they also don’t really care to find out anything. I found this rather confusing. I also thought that the story focussed way too much on the romantic relationships and not on the plotline of Sante finding out more about her family and where she is from.There were some parts that I found rather problematic. The most jarring was the repetetive use of the slur g*psy . Even though Sante mentions that the word is inappropriate, she uses it to describe her friends, who are Romany. Mama Rose dresses up as a geisha in one scene, complete with the kimono, to do some thinking and this was so weird, especially considering that she’s a white woman. The horse in this story is called Taj Mahal, and I didn’t see why this would be the case considering that none of the characters are from India.__I enjoyed the premise of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars but this wasn’t my book.
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  • Lily
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars[review to come]
  • dessie
    January 1, 1970
    Review also posted on Samodiva Reads I received a free copy from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Fourteen-year-old Sante is haunted by a past she doesn’t remember. A recurring dream shows her a shipwreck which Sante, as a baby, survived, hidden in a treasure chest. Raised by Mama Rose, Sante and her nomadic family make a living by performing on the streets of whichever city they happen to be in. During one of their performances, Sante recognizes two men from her dr Review also posted on Samodiva Reads I received a free copy from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Fourteen-year-old Sante is haunted by a past she doesn’t remember. A recurring dream shows her a shipwreck which Sante, as a baby, survived, hidden in a treasure chest. Raised by Mama Rose, Sante and her nomadic family make a living by performing on the streets of whichever city they happen to be in. During one of their performances, Sante recognizes two men from her dream and goes after them, determined to find out what happened and where she comes from. But the truth is never simple enough and Sante and her family walk into a dangerous web.For anyone who is easily unsettled, this book deals with topics such as human trafficking and (implied) underage sex work.Looking at the rest of the reviews, it looks like you either hate this book or you love it. I’m, as usual, in some sort of middle ground where I neither hated, nor loved it. Let’s say I enjoyed it, but with a few strings attached.It was hard for me to get into this book. The main reason, I believe, is the writing style. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, but it is unusual and it takes a while for the reader to get used to it. Additionally, I did fall into a bit of a reading slump after last month’s excessive reading, so that too attributed to my rocky start. I didn’t particularly like the writing style, however, the story picks up and it gets easier to read (and, thus, enjoy).Because of my difficulty of the writing style, it took me a while to grasp the world, despite its modern setting, as well as the characters. I did, in the end, begin to care for Sante and her family, but it took a long time (nearly the whole book). Still, I love family dynamics and the found family trope, so I was really happy to see the characters working together and being supportive despite their differences.The ‘magical realism’ aspect didn’t register fully with me, I think, which I’ll take as a good thing since it didn’t seem like I was reading a book with any magical elements. Mostly, I thought of it as nothing out of the ordinary. While I didn’t fully understand this part of the plot, it wasn’t out of place for me either. It felt like an essential leg of Sante’s journey.Overall, A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars was a bit of a turbulent read but with a satisfying conclusion. It takes a while to get used to the scenery, which does take away a lot from the experience, but once you begin to make sense of the story, it turns into a profound and emotional journey.
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  • Vicky
    January 1, 1970
    It's hard being a writer. In such a competitive industry, you really need a fantastic writing style to stand out from the crowd.Yaba Badoe has that in spades. The richness of her writing, and the breadth of colourful imagery she uses, is absolutely enchanting, and creates a world in which issues like the migrant crisis exist side by side with magic to create something utterly unique. In short, it's great.The story follows Sante, a young girl rescued when the ship her family was in sank off the c It's hard being a writer. In such a competitive industry, you really need a fantastic writing style to stand out from the crowd.Yaba Badoe has that in spades. The richness of her writing, and the breadth of colourful imagery she uses, is absolutely enchanting, and creates a world in which issues like the migrant crisis exist side by side with magic to create something utterly unique. In short, it's great.The story follows Sante, a young girl rescued when the ship her family was in sank off the coast of Europe and taken in by Mama Rose, a woman who runs a travelling circus. The circus family exist by staying off the grid, but when they take in a young runaway, Scarlett, they're plunged into a world of smugglers, pimps and abuse- and all the time, Sante's dead family are crying out for justice.It's a fine balancing act to pull off: though the murder of Sante's family is described right from the start of the book, the proceedings are given a magical touch: she's discovered in a wooden chest filled with gold, and as the book proceeds we learn that she can 'mind-whisper' and talk to her faithful bird Priss. Likewise, the other two children in the story, Cobra and Cat, both have an uncanny affinity with their respective namesakes. The story itself has an almost dreamlike cast to it, as though the circus performers exist outside the regular world- and indeed, the only indication you have that you are in the present day are the mentions of migrants, the policemen and the mobile phones that some of the characters have.Badoe weaves together her two plot strands nimbly- Scarlett's fate at the hands of the people smugglers and Sante's backstory as the survivor of a ship sunk by smugglers to make money off her family's deaths. Badoe handles the issue with a lightness of touch that belies the sensitive material: Sante's special powers allow her to talk to her parents beyond the grave and understand just what was robbed from her, even as the dead come back to the world of the living and cry out for vengeance. As the plot advances, these two strands come together and build towards a tense finale.Through it all, though, there's a sense of lightness and wonder that really brings the story to life. Badoe keeps the plot well-paced, and weaves magic and reality together seamlessly to create a really compelling book. Even though it's a YA novel, it's worth giving this one a read.
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  • Sissi Reads
    January 1, 1970
    I finished A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars last night. I think it is a solid 3 star read for a debut novel. It is enjoyable and intriguing at times. This book has magical realism and tells a story about a girl who survived a tragic event and ended up being adopted by a travelling circus where everyone in the circus has some kinds of "power" or "talent". She keeps dreaming about the same dream when she is growing up which makes her questions who she is and where she comes from. With the event being un I finished A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars last night. I think it is a solid 3 star read for a debut novel. It is enjoyable and intriguing at times. This book has magical realism and tells a story about a girl who survived a tragic event and ended up being adopted by a travelling circus where everyone in the circus has some kinds of "power" or "talent". She keeps dreaming about the same dream when she is growing up which makes her questions who she is and where she comes from. With the event being unfolded, she then started to discover her true identity....First of all, what I like most about the book is Sante, the main heroine. I find the author did a good job in developing her storyline and making her a very likeable character. One of my favourite scenes in the book is the one she has with her parents in her dreams. I also love her interaction with Cobra, there is just something so sweet about their relationship and their affections for each other; and I love the way how the author wrote about them. I want to have a Cobra of my own! Secondly, I do like the author's attempt to tackle various different topics in the book, such as human trafficking and LGBT relationships, which I think is very important nowadays in YA books. The reasons why I am not rating it higher than 3 stars is because I feel like the story would have really benefit from a more detailed set out of the world building at the beginning of the book. It can be quite confusing at times when reading it for the first time and trying to understand this world and piece all the information together. Also, while I enjoy the author's writing most parts, I do feel that from time to time some of the events which happened in the book were a bit of a rush... one example is the insta love between Cat and Scartlett, I wish there is more explanation as to how "love" works in this world...Overall, comparing to the synopsis, I feel like the book can do so much more and it has great potential. But given this is the author's debut novel, I will still keep any eye out for her future work!
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  • Anne Goodwin
    January 1, 1970
    A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a life-affirming magic-realism adventure story against a backdrop of Ghanaian culture, tackling serious issues of migration and forced prostitution in a realistic yet sensitive manner, neither sugar-coating the issues nor zooming in excessively on the horrors. An impressive achievement: it’s not only younger readers who appreciate being protected without being patronised.Full reviewTwo novels featuring supernatural rescues http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/...
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  • Marianna
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't even read the synopsis THAT COVER CAPTIVATED ME
  • Aimee
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*** LONG REVIEW WARNING ***Tl;dr: Great potential but disappointing execution, could have been so much better.I’m really disappointed by this book. It had so much that should have made it an excellent book: magical realism, diversity, important issues such as human trafficking and the plight of refugees. But what it didn’t have was a coherent story – in fact it had two stories, Sante’s and Scarlett’s, with a fairly I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*** LONG REVIEW WARNING ***Tl;dr: Great potential but disappointing execution, could have been so much better.I’m really disappointed by this book. It had so much that should have made it an excellent book: magical realism, diversity, important issues such as human trafficking and the plight of refugees. But what it didn’t have was a coherent story – in fact it had two stories, Sante’s and Scarlett’s, with a fairly tenuous link between them ((view spoiler)[the same bad guys hurt both of them/their families (hide spoiler)]), neither of which really grabbed me. The cutting back and forth from one to the other made the whole plot very confusing, especially with all the dream sequences.It didn’t help that so many characters were given descriptors like Grey Eyes and Barrel Man rather than actual names. I know it’s because Sante didn’t know their names (although I think the author could have contrived some way for her to find out their names early on), but it made it really confusing to remember who was who, and it added to the confusion when we later found out some of their names because I kept forgetting they were the same person.None of the characters felt properly fleshed out, not even the main characters like Cat and Cobra or the other members of the family circus like Bizzie Lizzie and Midget Man*. We hardly get any detail about them beyond a few superficial details such as Cat and Cobra’s skin colour and that they were found in a forest (although I’m not sure if this is meant to be true or not). It’s really hard to relate to a character whose motivations, likes and dislikes and general character traits are completely unknown. *Side note: I’m not okay with the use of the word ‘midget’, especially as a replacement for the guy’s actual name. In fact when his name is revealed, the main characters express surprise, almost as if they never imagined him being called anything except ‘Midget Man’. Being defined by your disability to that extent is not okay. And speaking of motivations, I never quite understood why they risked so much to help Scarlett. I got why Sante saved her from drowning and why they were moved by her story, but it’s made clear that human trafficking is not unusual in their world so why did Sante, Cat and Cobra all feel moved to help her rather than the many other victims they would undoubtedly have met? The fact that they keep risking their lives even after they have had *yet another* lucky escape makes little sense - this is even commented on by another character: “I tell all of you to run for your lives. And yet you (…) have stayed? Is that wise, my dear?” I don’t buy the insta-love between Cat and Scarlett either, which *literally* happens the second they lock eyes and before they have even said a word to each other, so I don’t see that as a decent motivation for them getting so deeply involved in her story. I didn’t really feel much romance between Sante and Cobra either – if I hadn’t been explicitly told in the narrative that they were in love, I would have considered them brother and sister because that’s more in line with how they act (plus they did grow up together, making the whole romance a bit icky).Sante wanting to understand her personal history made more sense, but it seemed to play second-fiddle to the need to save Scarlett. I’d have preferred for the author to focus more on Sante’s own feelings as she discovers more about her family. There were a few introspective moments where she considers the impact of her new knowledge, but these are few are far between because the characters end up rushing off to sort out Scarlett.There wasn’t much world-building either. We’re told we’re in Spain, and a lot of characters have Spanish names, but the story could have taken place pretty much anywhere because it was really lacking in description. We didn’t really find out what happened to create such a dystopian world either – there’s a brief mention of environmental collapse forcing people to migrate out of Africa, but it doesn’t delve deep enough into the issues for it to feel satisfying. The writing style adds to this feeling of shallowness; just as it’s getting interesting, the sentences become short and half-finished, leaving me longing for more. “I stand on Taj’s broad back, and with both hands arched above me, do a toe-touch-sky arabesque. Keep my balance. Hold the pose for as long as I can. Drop onto Taj’s back again and do another handstand.” The difference between the first part of this quote and the last is stark – one part is vivid and engaging, the rest is just telling us what happened, not what it looked or felt like. This gets annoying after a few chapters, and it’s all the more frustrating when it’s set alongside beautiful prose that shows the author’s potential. I wish the whole book had been written in a style more like the first sentence of this quote.It took me a week to read this book despite it being less than 300 pages long. There are two reasons for this: firstly, because of the confusing story I was constantly flicking back to re-read things, and secondly, I found it so hard to get immersed in the story and I had to force myself to keep reading. I kept waiting for the narrative to draw me in, for that ‘can’t put it down’ feeling to start, but it sadly never happened.I don’t like ending reviews on a negative note, so here are some bits I liked:- Priss, the bird who helped rescue Sante as a baby. I loved the relationship between them, especially the way Sante sees her dreams from Priss’ point of view.- The description of trafficking victims washed up on the beach, completely ignored by the tourists who choose not to see the devastation around them. It’s eerily reminiscent of the photos of Syrian refugees which have been filling newspapers for the past few years, yet so many still feel able to ignore what’s going on. “they took us one summer to the Spanish beach (…) we saw brown bodies lying dead on the shore, women tanning themselves a stone’s throw away” “We travelled (…), to find a better future. We paid for our passage in full. Paid in dollars. Thousands of dollars.” - The briefly-mentioned backstory about environmental disaster as a cause of migration – I wish this had been expanded on more, because it’s very likely to happen and is something we all need to take more seriously.- Scarlett’s succinct but accurate explanation of abuse and grooming: “That’s what they do best, (…) ‘Pull you apart, trash everything you hold dear, so they can use you.” So it wasn’t all bad, but it could have been so much better.
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  • Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars"Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Her people.Fourteen years on she's a member of Mama Rose's unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them:A bamboo flute. A golden bangle. A ripening mango which must not fall... if Sante is to tell their story and her own."'Strangers pitch up on our 4.5 stars"Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Her people.Fourteen years on she's a member of Mama Rose's unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them:A bamboo flute. A golden bangle. A ripening mango which must not fall... if Sante is to tell their story and her own."'Strangers pitch up on our shores and we herd them into camps. They come in broken boats and we let them drown.'I honestly don't think there is a more important time to read this book than right now. With the political turmoil of Brexit and the resurgence of the far right, people seem to be forgetting that the desperate people trying to make their way into Europe are humans deserving of all the rights that we so take for granted. This book is about people whose only option is to attempt to cross the Mediterranean, who know it might kill them, who know they might fall into the hands of traffickers, but also know that it is the only choice that they have left. Honestly, with many peoples heads turned by the rhetoric plied by politicians, that we must strengthen borders and turn people away from our gates, I hope that people read this book and feel their opinions change.Sante is one of the younger narrators that I've read recently, only fourteen, but her voice is so authentic that I feel it can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Badoe has a gorgeous way of writing, fluid and magical and, honestly, I didn't even feel the pages passing, it was like a wonderful dream. It's one of those books which is almost surreal, but you never feel the need to question it, it all makes sense in its own strange way. The closest category I've found when trying to explain it is Animist Realism, a genre of African Literature close to the Latin concept of Magical Realism, which is born from animism, a belief that everything on earth, be it rock, animals, weather or thought has its own spiritual essence. It's the perfect genre for Sante's story, allowing her to deal with the death of her parents, her exploration of the little she knows of them, and the ancestral echoes of the treasures that were left alongside her in the sea chest. 'The baby gurgles, entranced by the rough play of water as a wave steadies her boat. She smiles, a jigsaw of stars and fire reflected in her eyes, and she stretches a dimpled hand to touch the moon.' This book is so gorgeous. It's rich and vibrant, filled with lush descriptions and poetic prose. Where in many books the inclusion of an animal companion can risk infantilising the story, Sante's golden eagle felt more like a guardian spirit, a anthromorphisation of her strength and determination. It was a clever decision to balance the cold hard realities of the book against more whimsical prose. It’s the literary equivalent of casting fragrant rose petals over a rotting corpse, the scent only become more cloying, more horrific in the juxtaposition. The book is never graphic in its horror, it does not linger over the sordid details of what the traffickers do to their captives, but it does show the aftereffects of the trauma, the trembling fear and pain of survivors. It's been a long time since I was so filled with hate for a villain, but 'The Captain', the head of the trafficking ring, is so powerful and vile that it honestly sent a shiver up my spine when he was first introduced. The half star that I removed is for pacing, there was a bit of a lull at about the 60% mark that I felt was unnecessary and was the first time whilst reading the book that I felt a little bored. I was also a little confused about the use of the word 'gypsy' in text. Multiple times throughout the book Sante describes the word being used as a slur against other members of her circus family and yet once or twice she uses it to describe them herself. There's also a random paragraph where Mama Rose, the head of the circus is described as dressing up in a kimono and white face powder for 'thinking time'…whilst Mama Rose is a white woman. They're small aberrations, but unnecessary ones that could easily be removed from the final product with no change to the plot itself. Conclusion'A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars' is a rich, vibrant young adult contemporary with a bright magical sparkle, that deals with incredibly important and relevant issues. It's a short book, only 256 pages, which I'd genuinely love as many people to read as possible, because it's the perfect foil to the dehumanisation of migrants that is horribly common in modern media.'A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars' is out on the 7th of September, definitely one to be added to your 'to be read'!Many thanks to Head of Zeus Books for a copy in return for an honest review! As this is a review of an advanced review copy, quotations may be subject to change in the final copy. Review originally posted at Moon Magister Reviews.
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  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    “His terror electrifies the restaurant. So much so, that the veil that hides the world from the next and conceals the seen from the unseen is torn asunder.”- Yaba Badoe What hurts the most about this book is that I had so much hope for it, I was so excited to read it and for while I really did love this book, it wasn’t until around the half way point that I began to genuinely dislike it. I’ll preface now, if this hadn’t been an ARC copy, I would have stopped reading at 71%. Everything seemed to “His terror electrifies the restaurant. So much so, that the veil that hides the world from the next and conceals the seen from the unseen is torn asunder.”- Yaba Badoe What hurts the most about this book is that I had so much hope for it, I was so excited to read it and for while I really did love this book, it wasn’t until around the half way point that I began to genuinely dislike it. I’ll preface now, if this hadn’t been an ARC copy, I would have stopped reading at 71%. Everything seemed to come crashing down all at once with this book. I began to hate the writing style, the characters began to either annoy me or bore me and I had lost interest in the overall plot after one very ham-handed section that I’ll talk about in a moment. The whole thing felt rushed and for a book that was 151 pages on my kindle I felt like I had been reading it forever.While I admit that I don’t like this book, there are sections that I did like; the early on plot was very exciting, I loved the African Folklore and magical realism and how it was seamlessly woven into the novel gave the beginning of ‘AJoFaS’ an amazing mysterious and magical atmosphere that I just couldn’t get enough of, so while aspects of the writing style were good for these parts, in the end it was the writing style that ruined this book for me. I have also read about the problems from people about how Badoe chooses to describe and show the travellers and their lifestyle in this book and while I agree with these opinions, as someone who is not a Romany or someone with a traveller background, I do not believe that it is my place to discuss this issue, so I shall link to a review of someone who is Romany and talks of their experiences with the book Now let’s get to the chunky part. This book’s writing style. I ended up honestly hating it and I found it very hard to slog through the book because of it, the only way that I can describe it is ‘flowery’ there are far too many metaphors and similes in place of actual descriptions and this gave the book a very detached feeling, and if I must read about a character’s ‘greens’ one more time I’m going to cry. This overall detached feeling meant that through this book I didn’t feel one single connection to any of the characters, and I didn’t think they had any chemistry with one another either, no character seemed to have any depth, even our lead Sante. This left every other characters just feeling like more of a plot point than an actual person and I don’t like that in books personally. Another problem I had with this writing style was that it had no fluidity to it, there was a part when one character asked a question, and then it wasn’t answered for another four pages? Yet I couldn’t tell you why this was, nothing progressed in those pages, it just felt like stalling with too much tell and not enough show. This was made most clear when it came to the relationship between the four children, you’re told how close Cobra and Sante are, you’re told that Cat and Scarlett are in love, but other than that it feels more like insta-love just because that’s all we see as the reader.Let’s talk about the end of the book now. What the bloody hell just happened? I get that this is magical realism but that doesn’t mean you just get to through coherency to the wind and begin talking about moths or whatever those last chapters were. What hell was Scarlett? Why could she do what she did? Why does the magical realism near the end feel more like convenient plot hole filler sometimes, such as Sante making decisions based solely on instinct such as, ‘I’m sure this one police officer will be nice and on our side even though every other one has done nothing but hurt us.’ And ‘I just feel like we should take this girl who hinders us usually and hasn’t proven to be trust worthy’ It just feels lazy to me, and then there’s that whole rubbish leading up to the climax of the novel where (view spoiler)[ the magical deus ex machina ghosts just take Sante out into a storm and tell her exactly what to do…what? WHY?! Wouldn’t it have been more fun to have these kids work together and figure out how to do it themselves? (hide spoiler)] I’m so frustrated with this book.So in the end, I have to say that I was disappointed with this book. I had such a blast reading the first half but soon the writing style, lack of character depth and seemly abusive use of the magical realism genre to fix plot holes just became too much for me. Thank you Head of Zeus and Netgalley, for sending me an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Gemma
    January 1, 1970
    I have quite a lot of thoughts about this one so before I begin I just want to say I apologize for the long review but I want to make sure I let you know all of my thoughts. I hadn't really heard of this book until I saw a picture of the cover on Twitter and I thought oh my goodness I need to read this. I looked into the synopsis a bit more and I liked the sound of it and the fact that it was written by a Ghanaian author was another tick. I then saw it was available for request on NetGalley and I have quite a lot of thoughts about this one so before I begin I just want to say I apologize for the long review but I want to make sure I let you know all of my thoughts. I hadn't really heard of this book until I saw a picture of the cover on Twitter and I thought oh my goodness I need to read this. I looked into the synopsis a bit more and I liked the sound of it and the fact that it was written by a Ghanaian author was another tick. I then saw it was available for request on NetGalley and here we are. The story follows Santa who was rescued my Mama Rose and her family circus after washing up on a beach as a baby. We watch as Santa is constantly plagued by dreams about her past and becomes determined to find out who she really is and where she comes from. As you can see it's not a very plot heavy book. It focuses much more on the characters, especially Santa, as we follow her on her journey of self discovery. There are lots of elements of magical realism throughout the story, much of which seems to be rooted in African folklore, as well as some more hard hitting themes such as human trafficking and refugees. It is also a very diverse book with an eclectic mix of characters including a Ghanaian main character, a traveler group and a female/female romance. So all in all this sounds like the makings of what could of been a fantastic book but it didn't quite hit the mark in my opinion. The writing style was interesting. It took me a while to get into it, I found the very short 2/3 word sentences quite jarring to begin with but once I got into it it flowed quite well. On the whole I thought the writing was good. It was very magical and fairytalesque and in places it was beautiful and worked well with the story. The whole novel was written like a fairytale and, although I love fairytales, I didn't feel this quite worked with the more serious themes within the book. I would of liked the author to have dived more into the heart of these topics to explore them and their effect on our main characters a bit more. I also found some of Santa's dream sequences and internal monologues to be a bit confusing. I also felt there was a lack of world building, especially in the beginning. I didn't really know when this novel was set, sometimes it felt like we were in more olden day times and then at other times there was mention of modern day technology and places. I loved the fact that this novel was set around a circus, mention circus and I'm there it's one of my favorite settings, but I would of liked some more depth to the world. In terms of the characters I loved Santa. I loved how determined she was to keep searching for the truth and I felt empathy towards her. Her relationship with her bird Priss was heartwarming and I felt the author did a fantastic job of exploring Santa as a person. I also enjoyed Cobra as a character and how he was always looking out for both Santa and his sister Cat. He often came across as the voice of reason. On the other hand I didn't really like Cat or Scarlett. I did like how feisty Cat was but I often felt they both came across as a bit self centered. I also felt their romance was quite instalovey although I did appreciate the inclusion of a female/female romance on the authors part. I felt the author did a good job on Santa's character development but I would of liked a bit more in terms of these three, especially as they were quite central to the story. As for the other characters I loved the idea of it being based around a family and you could see how important each of them were to one another. They always seemed to be looking out for each other. Overall I loved the magical realism aspects and I liked the themes included however, I don't think they worked overly well together. I understand what the author was trying to achieve but I feel each of these things would of been much better in their own books. The author definitely demonstrated her ability to write and develop characters in parts of this story so I can see the potential there. I would definitely be interested in checking out what this author does in the future.This review can also be found on my blog at https://gemmasbooknook.blogspot.co.uk...
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  • Kirsty Hanson
    January 1, 1970
    When I searched this book on Goodreads so that I could add it to my 'currently reading' shelf, I noticed that this book had a very low average rating and I just felt so disheartened. But, I started the book and read it til the very ending. The average ratings on Goodreads didn't miss the mark too much.Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest When I searched this book on Goodreads so that I could add it to my 'currently reading' shelf, I noticed that this book had a very low average rating and I just felt so disheartened. But, I started the book and read it til the very ending. The average ratings on Goodreads didn't miss the mark too much.Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds. Sante was found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. They travel around contemporary southern Europe, living off-grid and performing circus tricks for money. Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.The sole reason why I requested this book on NetGalley, what that I wanted to read a book that wasn't set in the U.S, or had an all-white cast of characters. I wanted to read about different cultures so A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars seemed like the perfect read for me.It's safe to say that this book completely let me down. I couldn't connect with the characters, I couldn't understand what was going on half of the time, and there just didn't seem to be any explaining when things were going on. There was also a problematic scene for me where Mama Rose (the character who looks after our protagonist, Sante) dresses up in a kimono and pretends to be a geisha. She even puts white powder on her face and says to Sante that she dresses up like this when she "needs to reflect and think on the things that are happening". So the cultural appropriation in that instance was completely wrong.BUT, it's not all negative. Those 2.5 stars have to come from somewhere, right? Well, let's just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the cover is! It's another reason why I wanted to read this book; the cover just immediately grabbed my attention. I also think that the author doesn't have a bad idea here as far as the story is concerned. Badoe - throughout this book - explores the themes of refugees, human trafficking and politics. But the whole problem with this book is that it's in the genre of magical realism... It just doesn't work alongside the themes of the book. I think if Badoe had gotten rid of the magical element of this book, it would have been so much better, and the dark themes of the book would be more prominent and would have had more impact.Overall, this book wasn't that good. I loved the exploration that Sante has into her identity and how her dreams connect to that and I loved how Badoe touches on the surface of what it's like to be a refugee. However, the world building just didn't make sense and sometimes the writing style just didn't work for me. I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy it, but I'm glad that I've read it.Warning: contains triggers for sexual abuse and violence.Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest reviewReleased 7th September
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.First off let me preface my review with trigger warnings I wish I had before I started the book. There's pedophilia mentioned, there's child sexual abuse mentioned and there are some scenes that are just really uncomfortable in that manner. There are also some comments that are really victim-blame-y and it's just really gross.Now to the story. I really wanted to like this book. And I do like it. But I don Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.First off let me preface my review with trigger warnings I wish I had before I started the book. There's pedophilia mentioned, there's child sexual abuse mentioned and there are some scenes that are just really uncomfortable in that manner. There are also some comments that are really victim-blame-y and it's just really gross.Now to the story. I really wanted to like this book. And I do like it. But I don't love it. Partly at fault for that is the confusing writing style for sure. For a long time, I was not sure if those ghosts were real or imagination or how they really fit in the story. The magical elements got so mixed with reality that often I just couldn't be sure what was really going on.Despite that, I really grew to love Sante and Cobra and Cat. I also absolutely adored Scarlet.And there's already another one of my problems. We are told that Scarlet was abused since she was really young and so she is very angry at her abuser. Despite this, she is only ever regarded as a burden or something to fear and mistrust by Sante and Cobra. Cobra even once questions how they can be sure that she's not actually in love with her abuser and wanted it. I had to stop reading for a while at that scene. While we do not at that point know about all of the abuse she faced (like the fact that he's a pedophile that gave her parents access to drugs and gambling so he could easily get their daughter), I already suspected that her past was a really dark one and felt that she deserved way more compassion than she got. And while I absolutely loved that Cat was immediately there for her, she was immediately there for her. They hadn't even exchanged words and already acted as if they were in love. This was explained by some mystical and short-lived soulmate idea, but it didn't make a lot of sense. In quite a lot of the relationships in the story there was only telling and barely any showing, which really made it unbelievable for me as a reader.But now back to the main story. The mythology of this story is really amazing and I just wish there had been a bit more explanation.Jess has a bird that watched over her since she was a little girl called Priss. Their relationship is really great and I really enjoyed reading about them. Another thing I liked was the circus life as it was really well taught and super interesting.There's also a lot of political commentary in this story, but it switches its focus quite often. Corrupt cops, refugees being herded off into camps if they even managed to get to shore and weren't drowned, human trafficking, sexual abuse and living off the grid. And while I really enjoyed reading about all of this, in the end, it just made the story more confusing. It is simply too short to have such a huge plethora of issues in it and so none of them are fully fleshed out and I think the story suffers for that sadly.There's also the repeated use of g*psy. And while Sante once mentions that it's a bad word, she keeps using it. Here's a review about why it shouldn't be used by non-Romani people. Another thing is that apparently barely any of these people have real names? Or at least Sante never learns them, as she refers to one of the adults in the circus constantly as Midget-Man. Get it, because we have to see that he's a Little Person. Ugh. While other characters at least have okay code names, this one really rubbed me the wrong way.All in all, this story has amazing folklore, interesting characters, and a quite interesting writing style. I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I had gone into it wanting to read magical realism and not a contemporary. However, there are also quite a few problems with this book and so I couldn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would.
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  • Kendal Noonlightreader
    January 1, 1970
    Author: Yaba BadoeGenre: YA fantasy/Magical RealismRating: 3/5 starsThis book was provided to me by the publisher, Head of Zeus, Zephyr imprint, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks go to the publisher for this chance and it in NO way effects my opinions on the book. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a YA fantasy/magical realism book by Yaba Badoe. The cover of this book is beyond all the worlds of beauty and charm and I was so very eager to find the contents equally as divine - unfortunately I Author: Yaba BadoeGenre: YA fantasy/Magical RealismRating: 3/5 starsThis book was provided to me by the publisher, Head of Zeus, Zephyr imprint, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks go to the publisher for this chance and it in NO way effects my opinions on the book. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a YA fantasy/magical realism book by Yaba Badoe. The cover of this book is beyond all the worlds of beauty and charm and I was so very eager to find the contents equally as divine - unfortunately I did not. The premise of this book is perfect - diverse characters, exploring the harsh realities of human trafficking and immigration. There's also the loveable characters and theme of Circus life and travelling. Badoe ticked all the boxes for me. Sante, Cobra and Cat - the MCs are all unique and charming and I loved them all immediately. There is nothing I wanted more than to adore this book with it's fabulous characters but the plot line completely ruined it. It took me a very long time by my standards to get even slightly into the story, I was still forcing myself to continue reading by page 100 and for me that never happens unless the book is just not for me. Usually if I'm not hooked by page 100 I cast the book aside but I was determined to love this so continued regardless. By page 200 I was enjoying it no more than I was at the start. I can't express enough that this book has such potential- it could have been truly amazing, but it's just that over-reaching plot line that just doesn't go where it wants to go. I feel bad because I can't say this is a bad book, there are too many good points for that. But at the same time, I can't say it is a good book either. I think it needed a bit more planning and a lot more pages to pull off what it's trying to do. Overall, I guess I would say that you could read this book if you wanted something quick and enjoy it enough.
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  • Celeste
    January 1, 1970
    *I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I really wanted to like this book, but it just wasn't for me.There were some redeeming aspects of the story -the magical realism vibe of the whole plot with Sante and all the kids having some kind of powers and the symbolic presence throughout the entirety of the book of the undead who drowned in the middle of the ocean coming back to exert their revenge and have their deaths be worth something somehow, yet none of t *I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I really wanted to like this book, but it just wasn't for me.There were some redeeming aspects of the story -the magical realism vibe of the whole plot with Sante and all the kids having some kind of powers and the symbolic presence throughout the entirety of the book of the undead who drowned in the middle of the ocean coming back to exert their revenge and have their deaths be worth something somehow, yet none of this was enough for me to get invested in the story.It took me forever to read what is basically a very short book, because I could never feel any sort of connection to the characters or get invested in what they were doing. I felt like they didn't realize the seriousness of the things that were going on which involved them directly, like the whole decision of going back to meet the men who literally kidnapped them and who were going to traffic them as sexual slaves (??????) LIKE PLEASE, USE YOUR BRAINS!There are also examples of problematic content where the main character, Sante, refers to herself and her "circus family" as gypsies, even though she clearly understands that that is a racial slur that people usually use to talk about them, and also when another one of the characters, Mama Rose, dresses up as a geisha wearing a kimono and even puts on white powder onto her face because she "needs to reflect and think on the things that are happening". All in all, I don't think this was the right book for me, but I think many might enjoy this if you are into the genre and this type of writing.
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  • Alhice
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.First of all I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book which I might have not picked up if I had not seen it on their website.Before starting to talk about the book itself, please, let us all take a moment to admire that marvellous cover. Those bright colours! One last notice: This book is not really what I am used to read, and as I said, I don't think I would have picked it up in a booksho I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.First of all I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book which I might have not picked up if I had not seen it on their website.Before starting to talk about the book itself, please, let us all take a moment to admire that marvellous cover. Those bright colours! One last notice: This book is not really what I am used to read, and as I said, I don't think I would have picked it up in a bookshop, but still it was a great reading.Badoe's writing is so rich and captivating it was hard to put the book down. Every description is so real but, at the same time, so poetic that makes you feel like you are inside a dream. Also the entire narration was very fluid and fast-paced that having had more time I would have finished in one sitting.I loved the idea of Sante having a spirit animal, a sort of guide and protector from the very beginning it made the entire story even more magical and gave me the feeling of an african folklore tale.I also appreciated the fact that even if the book deals with real horrors, Badoe never goes into the details, she sort of tells you without really doing it, which does not take away importance to what's happening but makes it more bearable.In conclusion, this is a great book (even if not in my personal tastes) that could be really helpfull in sensibilizing people about issues such as immigration and child traffic and abuse.
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  • Tamara✨
    January 1, 1970
    I got this from NetGalley in exchange for a review! This is a YA book but honestly the writing felt like a Middle Grade book instead. Nothing wrong with that though! But the content does touch on sex trafficking as well as illegal immigration so I suppose it fits as a YA novel. Sante is 14 and the lead of this book, she was adopted as a baby by a group of travellers of a circus and it's not clear at the start in what era this is set in. Later on they mention things like phones and mopeds and com I got this from NetGalley in exchange for a review! This is a YA book but honestly the writing felt like a Middle Grade book instead. Nothing wrong with that though! But the content does touch on sex trafficking as well as illegal immigration so I suppose it fits as a YA novel. Sante is 14 and the lead of this book, she was adopted as a baby by a group of travellers of a circus and it's not clear at the start in what era this is set in. Later on they mention things like phones and mopeds and computers, so I'm pretty sure it's at least in the last 10 years. ANYWAY Sante has some kind of mental powers or a connection to 'the great beyond' and has known all her life, however when performing somewhere in Spain, she spots someone in the audience who triggers her powers to go a bit haywire. The key here is that Sante knows literally nothing about her origins, only that she's of African descent and was found in a treasure chest filled with jewels, a dagger and a flute. Overall I though this book was a really good approach to discussing hard topics such as sex trafficking as well as the current immigration crises. Despite feeling like the writing was a bit too young, it was still engaging and interesting! I did appreciate that not all the romances in this book were heterosexual...!! https://hercommonplaceblog.wordpress....
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This story was as beautiful as the cover. Sante doesn't remember her heritage, having been found in a treasure chest as the sole survivor of a shipwreck. After being adopted into a travelling circus, Sante discovers she has some kind of magical connection to 'the great beyond', and uses this on her journey to self discovery.The writing of this was lovely, wth a lot of character development in under 300 pages. San I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This story was as beautiful as the cover. Sante doesn't remember her heritage, having been found in a treasure chest as the sole survivor of a shipwreck. After being adopted into a travelling circus, Sante discovers she has some kind of magical connection to 'the great beyond', and uses this on her journey to self discovery.The writing of this was lovely, wth a lot of character development in under 300 pages. Sante never felt contrived, and I enjoyed the hint of magical realism and Ghanaian folklore laced throughout. It wasn't entirely clear at first what time period this was set in, so I went into the story thinking it would be more historical than it actually was, however this didn't really effect the story. It also managed to handle the ongoing issues of human trafficking delicately, and in this current climate I do feel it's an important issue. I know I don't read enough stories relating to this, and I'm currently trying to educate myself about other cultures. I'd even go so far as to say it would be a book I'd recommend my son to read, who's seven. In short, a great little story.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I really thought I'd like this book, but there was nothing I liked about it in the end. It had an interesting enough plot, but unfortunately it wasn't very "mysterious..." anyone familiar with the YA genre knows that *shock-horror* whatever the MC has recurrent dreams about her childhood 100% of the time ACTUALLY happened. Therefore, most of this book was repetitive revisiting the dreams and disappointing when the "big truth" was no less than what had been read on the first page. Aside from the I really thought I'd like this book, but there was nothing I liked about it in the end. It had an interesting enough plot, but unfortunately it wasn't very "mysterious..." anyone familiar with the YA genre knows that *shock-horror* whatever the MC has recurrent dreams about her childhood 100% of the time ACTUALLY happened. Therefore, most of this book was repetitive revisiting the dreams and disappointing when the "big truth" was no less than what had been read on the first page. Aside from the origins of the MC and other characters, which where mildly interesting and involve African Princesses for approximately 2.5 seconds before the author never mentions it again, the rest of the plot? I don't even know what I read. Something to do with moths? A circus? No clue.This book was just disappointing after having a beautiful cover and premise. I didn't like the writing style but I liked the slang and accents found in the speech, perhaps the only thing I liked about this book.// Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review //
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  • E'Lanna
    January 1, 1970
    *received a copy off arc in exchange for an honest review*The start was so promising and I wanted so badly to like this book but. As a Romany, Roma, Sinti (or any other number of words you can use for us that isn't Gypsy which is a slur) woman I just can't read this I'm sorry I tried but everytime that word was used it was like being splashed with cold water, I wanted to love this book but between the words used and stereotypes invoked it just got too much. When it was just used by people who we *received a copy off arc in exchange for an honest review*The start was so promising and I wanted so badly to like this book but. As a Romany, Roma, Sinti (or any other number of words you can use for us that isn't Gypsy which is a slur) woman I just can't read this I'm sorry I tried but everytime that word was used it was like being splashed with cold water, I wanted to love this book but between the words used and stereotypes invoked it just got too much. When it was just used by people who were clearly antagonistic it was rough but I understood, then she called them "true gypsy's" as if by sheer power of wanderlust gadje can become one of us, we aren't magical, mythical creatures we're real people with real problems. If this word is being used for a reason I'm not interested in finding out. The prose is gorgeous.
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  • haani
    January 1, 1970
    Took me long enough to read but this book was really well written and a good read. Sante, the main character, was from Ghana, travelled the sea with her family when she was just a baby to the promise of something more. Her parents died and she later adopted by Mama Rose. She found a family in the circus with Mama Rose, Cat, Cobra, Redwood, Mimi and many more. And life is not as simple for Sante. Figuring out who's her real parents are, meeting new person, finding that some people as not as you t Took me long enough to read but this book was really well written and a good read. Sante, the main character, was from Ghana, travelled the sea with her family when she was just a baby to the promise of something more. Her parents died and she later adopted by Mama Rose. She found a family in the circus with Mama Rose, Cat, Cobra, Redwood, Mimi and many more. And life is not as simple for Sante. Figuring out who's her real parents are, meeting new person, finding that some people as not as you thought, planning a plan that could kill you, and all that thing.When i say this book is well written, the writer has her phrases that i certainly like, a rich words formed together. The suspense and the close relationship between characters really really worth to read. Also, the cover is swoon worthy.
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  • Megan Conlan
    January 1, 1970
    This book was absolutely beautiful to read. The idea of the sole survivor of a shipwreck had me excited from first hearing about it.This book holds an incredibly unique story, laced with powerful themes that are full of colour.Sante is an amazing, strong character that is full ignore feelings and beauty.Yaba has cleverly written a book that is haunting, seamless and a rare kind of brilliance. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down and I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once. This book was absolutely beautiful to read. The idea of the sole survivor of a shipwreck had me excited from first hearing about it.This book holds an incredibly unique story, laced with powerful themes that are full of colour.Sante is an amazing, strong character that is full ignore feelings and beauty.Yaba has cleverly written a book that is haunting, seamless and a rare kind of brilliance. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down and I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once.I highly recommend this book to all contemporary readers. It was a truly amazing debut.Thank you Head of Zeus for sending me this to read !
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  • Lucy-May
    January 1, 1970
    This was an interesting idea, but the execution wasn't perfect... at times it felt like the author was trying to write two stories in one & I feel like we could have had almost exactly the same plot without the magic element included. I did enjoy the book, & I read it fairly quickly, but I just felt frustrated at times because it felt like bits of the plot were missing or that other bits just weren't really necessary. Like I said, it was an interesting idea, & I enjoyed the magical s This was an interesting idea, but the execution wasn't perfect... at times it felt like the author was trying to write two stories in one & I feel like we could have had almost exactly the same plot without the magic element included. I did enjoy the book, & I read it fairly quickly, but I just felt frustrated at times because it felt like bits of the plot were missing or that other bits just weren't really necessary. Like I said, it was an interesting idea, & I enjoyed the magical side & the mission the characters ended up taking on, but I just don't think the two things fit together very well.disclaimer: I was sent an eARC of this book in return for an honest reviewYou can find my extended review here:https://writingwolves.wordpress.com/2...
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  • Trisha
    January 1, 1970
    Finally finished it. A wondrous triumph of hope over evil and corruption. Extraordinary imagery and texture.
  • Nadia
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!I really wanted to like this book. With the most beautiful cover, a poetic title and intriguing premise, initially it ticked all the boxes. But it just didn’t live up to my expectations, at all.Touching briefly on contemporary themes such as the flow of migrants and people-trafficking, the story really focused more on Sante’s search for identity with elements of magical realism Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!I really wanted to like this book. With the most beautiful cover, a poetic title and intriguing premise, initially it ticked all the boxes. But it just didn’t live up to my expectations, at all.Touching briefly on contemporary themes such as the flow of migrants and people-trafficking, the story really focused more on Sante’s search for identity with elements of magical realism. Whilst I usually enjoy following characters on their journey of self-discovery, it was the magical elements here that I couldn’t wrap my head around. As far as Sante’s dreams and the spirits were concerned, I just didn’t get it.It wasn’t all bad but, essentially, I disliked it more than I liked it. I enjoyed the unique writing style and the emphasis on family, with or without shared blood, as well as the bond between humans and animals with Cobra’s connection to his snakes and Sante’s relationship with her bird, Priss.Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the plot so much and that was the ultimate let down. It was too slow-paced and left me confused because I had no idea what was happening. At times, I also had no idea which characters were being referred to or how they fit into the story – everyone just seemed to blur into one – as the narrator tends to call them by description rather than name.Overall, this was highly disappointing. It touches on important themes and has a cast of interesting and diverse characters, but it just wasn’t as captivating inside as it is out.
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