ARC Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

A Jigsaw of Fire and STars
Book cover: Sante looks down at the ground. In the background there is a layer of water with a boat above a layer of fire, and above that the night sky, in which an eagle is flying.

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.

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.

1 star

Are you interested in reading A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars?



7 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

  1. Great review! Unfortunately, I felt the same way. I was initially drawn in by the cover and synopsis but extremely disappointed when I finally read it.


  2. Thanks for reviewing this. I, too, would have chosen this based on the cover and the blurb. However there is no reason for a modern book to contain blatant ethnic slurs like that, especially when they are called out and then continued, meaning the author is aware they are slurs and still choosing to use them.

    One thing I’d mention, it’s possible the “Taj Mahal” horse is from an older American circus naming convention where animals and acts were named after “exotic” places. But it sounds like this book is not time travel or historical fiction, nor is it set in America.

    It’s always sad to be disappointed by books that seemed so promising!


    1. The absolutely strangest part about these slurs is that two of the characters are Romany and still the MC uses it for her friends. It’s not good editing.

      That American circus convention is fascinating to know about. However, it doesn’t apply in this case. Will keep that in mind for future book reviews though!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How strange. thank you for your review. i never pick up fantasy that isn’t recommended to me anymore because of worry i might encounter mess like this.


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