Book Review

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

I finished A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars the other 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!

3/5 stars.

Title: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars; Author: Yaba Badoe; Publisher: Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus.

Synopsis: 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.

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