A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

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A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

Badoe Jigsaw.jpg
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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Ghosts, a travelling circus and people traffickers. Not themes that one would normally find together, but Badoe combines them with some skill into a memorable, haunting young adult tale.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Zephyr
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786695482

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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.

Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British documentary filmmaker, journalist and author. Her first book, True Murder was published in 2009, a dark, strange and tense read of childhood crashing into the problems of adulthood.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars takes things in a very different direction, a book filled with spirit and magic that nevertheless addresses real and current issues through the viewpoint of Sante - a young girl in a circus who finds herself confronting very real villains in the form of people traffickers. The blend of realism with the supernatural and otherworldly allows Badoe free reign to explore these current issues in some depth - but she utilises the added spiritual components in order to ensure that the book doesn't become too bogged down in human misery. Santa is a hopeful, powerful lead character, filled with mysteries that I was keen to uncover as a reader, and her voice speaks strongly from the very first page.

This is a novel aimed at young adults from 12 and up, but could also be read and enjoyed by adults too, as part of Badoe's skill is to humanise the migrants we often see in the papers, drowning in their quests to get to better lives, but often dismissed as statistics and used by both the media and politicians in order to sway political favour. Here, Badoe gives these very real people powerful and truthful voices, which when combined with the beautiful descriptive phrases Badoe employs, both elegant and eloquent, makes for a powerful read.

I did find the book dragged a little towards the middle, but as it's only a short read this was only a brief mistep in terms of the pacing, and the memorable characters and beautiful prose make this one read worth persevering with. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For further reading I recommend All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Much like Badoe, Anders incorporates Fantasy elements into her story in order to address and explore very real issues - in Anders' case combining these with science fiction to make a story that's truly (forgive the pun) out of this world…

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Buy A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe at Amazon.com.


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