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A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  107 reviews
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 aro ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Zephyr
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Average rating 3.16  · 
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Éimhear (A Little Haze)
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
Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
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
Dannii Elle
A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars follows fourteen-year-old Sante who isn't sure where her home is. All she does know stems from a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby and meeting her lifelong companion since then, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds.

Sante, and the mysterious treasure, were found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. Together, they traveled around contempo
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 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,
Sinead Anja (Huntress of Diverse Books)
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,
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
Disclaimer: I received a copy free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Fourteen-year-old Sante doesn’t know where she comes from and is haunted by a past she doesn’t remember. The only clue she has is a recurring dream where she is escaping a shipwreck in a chest as a baby, along with her companion, an eagle named Priss. Along with this chest, she was found with treasures – an African bamboo flute, a drum, and a dagger, along with diamonds. Sante was found and raise
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Argh, I wanted to completely love this but it just fell flat in some places for me, especially the writing. Of course I was first attracted to this absolutely gorgeous cover, but a story about a baby girl arriving from the ocean with treasures being adopted by a circus group just sounded so exciting and magical, and in places it WAS, but then in others it was so cluttered by writing that felt like bad poetry that it lost the magic somewhere. I'm not a fan of a simile at the best of times (i thin ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an experience.

TW for human trafficking/sex trafficking (of children)
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

[review to come]
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 ...more
Nicole Sweeney
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a magical realism novel that follows fourteen year old Sante and her friends as they live off the grid and travel around Europe. Sante has a recurring dream about a shipwreck and longs to know the meaning of her dreams and what really happened to her parents.

I really wanted to love this book, I thought it sounded like a really fascinating book and I loved the blend of real life and magic but in truth it fell a
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Sophie Freeman
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book wasn’t truly gripping from the start, however, the story is adventurous with a strong lead character that you like from the start. Once I had stuck with it, it proved to be enchanting with rich description creating vivid mental imagery and an exciting quest for finding the truth.

I think it would benefit from being read in larger chunks in order to help keep pace to the story.
It would be best as a whole class read, reading all the way through before breaking it down and exploring the de
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, but it was too vague in a lot of things, and would go into a lot of description and build up things that aren't used later in the story or could've been cut to help follow the plot. There was a character that was "central" to the plot but felt like it was there basically as a plot mover, doing things to cause others to react to it.

My summary would be "it could've been a lot better, but it had some appeal in it and it has potential".

PS. I really wanted to like it, it'
Anne Goodwin
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 review
Two novels featuring supernatural rescues
i'm so so sad by the ending of this book because i really liked this story??? yaba badoe's writing style for this book is so magical & mysterious & i was really invested in sante's story. but the ending just really fell flat for me? i feel like a lot of the storyline just wasn't resolved & the ending was so rushed, it didn't really feel like closure. ...more
Lucy Adlington
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
I loved the wild originality of this story, the edgy characters, the mystical energies and the gloriously unexpected setting. Can't wait to read more by this author ...more
Uudenkuun Emilia
Jul 15, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf
I got almost halfway, but decided to DNF since I just wasn't enjoying myself. I wanted to like this book! Refugee issues, racism, magical realism - the basic themes seemed so good. But unfortunately, the narration just didn't draw me in and the plot was just meandering along, and most importantly, I didn't care about the characters although I wanted to. :( ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
“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
Kirsty Hanson
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
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

Ooooh that cover! I chose this for the cover, but definitely enjoyed the read! It's YA magical realism/almost fantasy, so super quirky. I think it would be a good read-alike for people who enjoyed Daughter of the Burning City.
Review also posted on Samodivas

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
Oct 29, 2017 added it
Shelves: arcs, dnf
I'm so sad that this was another DNF for me. I was actually pretty excited to read it because it's a Ghanaican #ownvoices novel and it has African magical realism! And the cover is just stunning.

This was definitely the case of "it's not you, it's me". I really liked how fast the story moved along and how quick you could read through the book. And I truly was interested in the story and the characters at first!

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a novel about Sante who survived a ship wreck when she wa
Annabel Laver
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: listofbetterment
Quite a mature book for primary school readers, but with great examples of metaphor and folklore. An example of a book showing other cultures and living in different ways, takes place mostly in Spain with a travelling circus
I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

Trigger Warning: Derogatory language used for little people.

When I first discovered A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe, I was immediately drawn in to the gorgeous, eye-catching cover. However, having finished the book, I'm really not happy with this book. I'm disappointed in the story, but also appalled by the offensive language.

Sante is part of Mama Rose's travelling circus, going from place to place, showing off their talents to make money, a
Samantha Shannon
A dazzling book about one brave girl, her two families, and a day of reckoning. Yaba Badoe has a lovely writing style – not so overwrought that it tips into purple prose, but certain turns of phrase took my breath away. Sante is a spirited protagonist, and her voice, peppered with slang, is compelling and distinctive. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars also includes some of the most loathsome villains I've seen in a long while.

Going into this book, I wasn't quite sure what genre it was, so to help any
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
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
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Yaba Badoe is an award-winning Ghanaian-British documentary film-maker and writer. A graduate of King's College Cambridge, she was a civil servant in Ghana before becoming a general trainee with the BBC. She has taught in Spain and Jamaica and worked as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. Her short stories have been published in Critical Quarterly, Af ...more

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