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All Our Shimmering Skies

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The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton returns with All Our Shimmering Skies - a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic. Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger's daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Run, Molly, run, says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia's wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber's coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies; a buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder; and a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

448 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 29, 2020

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About the author

Trent Dalton

10 books1,759 followers
Trent Dalton writes for the award-winning The Weekend Australian Magazine. A former assistant editor of The Courier-Mail, he has won a Walkley, been a four-time winner of the national News Awards Feature Journalist of the Year Award, and was named Queensland Journalist of the Year at the 2011 Clarion Awards for excellence in Queensland media. His writing includes several short and feature-length film screenplays. His latest feature film screenplay, Home, is a love story inspired by his non-fiction collection Detours: Stories from the Street (2011), the culmination of three months immersed in Brisbane's homeless community, the proceeds of which went back to the 20 people featured within its pages. His journalism has twice been nominated for a United Nations of Australia Media Peace Award, and his debut novel Boy Swallows Universe was published in 2018.

He was nominated for a 2010 AFI Best Short Fiction screenplay award for his latest film, Glenn Owen Dodds, starring David Wenham. The film won the prestigious International Prix Canal award at the world's largest short film festival, The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France. Dalton's debut feature film screenplay, In the Silence, is currently in production.

Trent also hosted the ABC Conversations show while Richard Fidler was on a Churchill Fellowship.

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5 stars
6,106 (33%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,775 reviews
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,326 reviews2,145 followers
October 12, 2020
I am going to admit straight out that I skimmed some of this book. Although it was beautiful and mystical and full of gorgeous descriptions it was also overwhelming - like too much frosting on a cake.

Nevertheless I loved the scenes of the Japanese attack on Darwin- so vivid and meaningful to view it at street level and learn how it affected individuals. There were also some great characters, my favourite being the Japanese pilot. He made the book for me, especially his awe at the Australian flora and fauna when he is in the bush, and I loved that he was Molly's "gift from the sky."

I was put off by the amount of brutality - not that the story did not require it but that it seemed to go on and on ( as I said earlier, I skimmed some). An awful lot of people died in the making of this book, mostly in very unpleasant ways.

So I liked some things, I did not like some things and I am going straight down the middle with three stars.
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,157 followers
August 16, 2021
A superb magical oddysey, with characters that stirred two extreme emotions in me: live and hate. Three wonderers thrown together by a sheer coincidence on a quest to conquer the evil.
Loved the writing and the story. The book I needed at this particular time.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,712 reviews25k followers
December 25, 2021
Aussie writer Trent Dalton gives us gloriously enchanting, yet brutally gritty storytelling in this piece of historical fiction, of adventure, a family drama, that embraces magical realism set during WW2 in 1942, portraying a war torn Darwin being bombed by the Japanese. At the centre of this novel is the larger than life 12 year old Molly Hook, a grave digger with her grave digging shovel, Bert. She has lost her mother who had told her to look to the sky whenever she needed her, which would provide her with all the requisite answers, and there is a copper pan with curious markings that she thinks might be a treasure map. Molly loves poetry, unfortunately residing with her father, Horace, and abusive Uncle Aubrey, men who are certainly no role models for this young girl.

Feeling she has a heart of stone, she sets out to get a family curse lifted, acquired over stolen gold, seeking Aboriginal elder, Longcoat Bob. Accompanied by the sharp witted Greta, a would be actress who had been involved with Uncle Aubrey, her shovel Bert, she embarks on a perilous adventure in the majestic Northern Territories, with all its amazing landscape, the wetlands, the flora and fauna, Molly finds herself bequeathed with another gift from the sky, a widowed Japanese pilot who would rather than die than kill others, the wonderful Yukio Miki. Dalton provides the reader with a glimpse of Australian history and insights into Aboriginal culture that is centred on connection with the natural world. This is a wondrous and tender story, written so beautifully with its lyrical prose, and with detailed and rich descriptions of the location and a well researched depiction of the impact of the war on Darwin.

This imaginative and offbeat Australian novel may not appeal to everyone, but I adored it, with its focus on the nightmarish darkness of the historical period shot through with bolts of bright light, good vs evil, love vs hate, connection vs disconnection with the earth and nature, and an all too real picture of what war means, the cost and repercussions. I found myself completely captivated and immersed in the heartbreaking narrative of hope, resilence, and survival, right from the beginning to the end, as it touched on issues of history, family, intergenerational trauma, grief, loss, love, betrayal, wounding masculinity, race, and class. I was gripped particularly by the characters of Molly and Yukio. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
Profile Image for John Banks.
136 reviews51 followers
October 3, 2020

Trent Dalton's All our Shimmering Skies is a solid followup to his incredibly popular (especially here in Australia) and much loved debut Boy Swallows Universe. For me though it just isn't quite as good.

There's too much repetition. The book needs a good edit and could be reduced by 100 pages or so. Some key characters are overblown caricatures that don't quite work.

For all that this is a big hearted and compelling story about a young girl, Molly Hook (from a family of gravediggers and gold prospectors), as she goes on a quest to lift a family curse. The book is set during WW2 Australia, especially the top end north of Darwin and the Northern Territory. Dalton's descriptions of Darwin, especially the Japanese bombing and its aftermath, which Molly is caught up in, are very well realised.

This guardian review very nicely summarises the strengths of the book as well as its problems:


Dalton returns to the themes that are the beating heart of Boy Swallows Universe: intergenerational trauma, mostly inflicted by toxic masulinity, and associated addictions and violences. In Boy Dalton grounded all this in gritty 1980s suburban Brisbane. He knows that territory well as he lived it and that book is very autobiographical. He then gave that story a special glow with magical realist flourishes. BSU's central theme is that through resilience and compassion and empathy and imagination we can rise above such damaging backgrounds. All our Shimmering Skies returns to these themes. Molly Hook is deeply traumatised by the violences of her father and uncle (Horace and Aubrey Hook). She has been 'abandoned' by her mother and believes her family has been cursed with hearts of stone. Dalton is at his best when the book is grounded by this story of family. While he never allows his narrative to turn away from the damage and pain inflicted by Horace and Aubrey, he also provides insight into why they could not rise above their circumstances.

Where the book is weak for me is the quest to lift the curse by finding an Indigenous elder, Longcoat Bob: "Longcoat Bob the sorcerer. Longcoat Bob the witch-doctor magic man. Longcoat Bob the spinner of spells. Conjurer of curses. Reader of Minds". Dalton has not done the work needed to establish a character like Longcoat Bob without risking reducing him to a caricature; this has significant problems. Similarly with some of the ways in which Longcoat Bob's grandson, Sam, is also represented.

Molly's journey through Northern Territory deep country on her quest is mostly beautifully done. There are the touches of magical realism as Dalton describes the landcape, flora and fauna. But it is just too long and repetitive and this dilutes the impact.

There are delightful characters in the book including Yukio (a Japanese fighter pilot) who falls from the sky as a gift, a treasure, to help Molly on her journey. And the feisty surrogate mother figure, Greta. A blonde, 1940s, screen siren type. These characters have their Dickensian moments in which they shine from the page.

When Yukio tells a story about his past to Molly that includes images and metaphors of butterflies, there are many metaphors like this through the book (especially the overarching one of the sky), mostly they work, but become repetitive and verge for me falling into annoying sentimentality:

"Molly knew that when he told this story Yukio was thinking of his wife, Nara. That's why people tell stories, she thinks. They remind us why we love things. They remind us why we love other people".

This is definitely at the heart of Dalton's storytelling gift. He's big hearted and I definitely see why people adore his books, which have his distinctive generous and empathetic voice. He manages to mostly skillfully blend moments of gritty realism, even horrific trauma, with this compassion. The magic realism elements are the glue that binds these impulses and tensions in his work, suggesting how imagination and story enables us to lift from such circumstances. With my family here in Brisbane, Australia I attended a launch event for the book and this is definitely Dalton, he has lived these experiences and cares deeply about storytelling's capacity to connect and heal. His generous optimism cuts through and clearly connects with readers. I can see why many will also love this book

I enjoyed my time reading All our Shimmering Skies, but it's a flawed gem that needs polishing.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,083 reviews921 followers
October 26, 2020
2.5 (rounded down, because The Boy Swallows the Universe was far superior to this and, still, only garnered 3.5 stars from me).

I pushed through and forced myself to finish this - admittedly, I skimmed here and there.
I was hoping Dalton's second novel will be more to my liking, as I wasn't as charmed by his debut, although I appreciated some parts of it.
I'm sorry to say that this novel did nothing for me. I thought it was half-baked and I could see the writer's hand in everything.
Before page 10 I had a couple of eye-rolling episodes because of some grandiose, self-helpy denouncements: Promise me you will make your life graceful, Molly. Promise me you'll make your life grand and beautiful and poetic, and even if it's not poetic you'll write it so it is. You write it, Molly, you understand? Promise me your epitaph won't be ugly like this. And if someone else writes your epitaph, don't make them struggle to write your epitaph. You must live a life so full your epitaph will write itself, you understand? ... This comes from the dead mother of a seven-year-old, the daughter of a grave-digger. Forgot to mention, it's the 1930s, Darwin, Australia. Such sophisticated pronouncements, coming from simple people ...

Things that bugged me were the unlikely situations, behaviours, speech, the under-developed, cardboard characters. Dalton tried too hard to be cute and whimsy. I was unable to fully immerse myself in the story nor give a damn.
Not my jam.
Beautiful cover.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,184 reviews30.5k followers
December 23, 2021
I really enjoyed Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, and I had grabby hands for All Our Shimmering Skies, which I loved just as much. This one definitely has a different feel with touches of magical realism, and a historical on top of it; a unique story for certain.

Set during World War II in Australia, All Our Shimmering Skies is a story of friendship and resilience that offers hope and adventure. At the heart of the story is Molly, a gravedigger’s daughter. She is seeking the sorcerer who put a curse on her family, and she has two friends along for the journey; two unusual friends: an actress named Greta and a Japanese fighter pilot named Yukio.

The descriptions are beautiful, and the story is almost ethereal with its magic; however, those feelings are juxtaposed with the darkness of the war and the evilness that abounds during that time. Overall, it feels much like a fairytale with good battling evil, which I enjoyed and can’t tell you how much I look forward to what’s next from Trent Dalton’s original voice and storytelling.

I received a gifted copy.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Ally Van Schilt.
664 reviews7 followers
April 2, 2020
Oh no, I feel I might have an unpopular opinion on this one - I just couldn’t get into it. Felt flowery and overdone, and just lacking that certain something that made Boy Swallows Universe so special. The magical elements were still there and there were certain, incredibly moving scenes but overall it just failed to enthral me and I found that, at times, I had to force myself to continue reading. So disappointing!
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,487 reviews843 followers
April 2, 2021
“Bonnie Russell, 1865–1923. Grey limestone. Apex top contouring. An epitaph line that Molly hopes every night in her sleep will turn out to be true: ‘Death is only a wall between two gardens.’ Molly standing in one garden on one side of that wall, here in the Northern Territory, her garden filled with ironwood trees and fern-leaved grevilleas with orange flowers the colour of fire; her mother, Violet, on the other side of that wall, standing among roses, red and pink roses and nothing else. She’s smiling. She’s waiting.”

What a strange story. Molly Hook, gravediggers’ daughter. Both parents and her uncle dig graves, and at 11, she has her own shovel, Bert, her only friend. He is called Bert, because he has a serrated edge like the crooked teeth of a local shopkeeper.

���Bert the shovel has helped dig twenty-six graves for her so far this year, her first year digging graves with her mother and father and uncle. Bert has killed a black whipsnake for her.

Molly’s mother, Violet, says Bert is Molly’s second best friend. Molly’s mother says her first best friend is the sky. Because the sky is every girl’s best friend. There are things the sky will tell a girl about herself that a friend could never tell her. Molly’s mother says the sky is watching over Molly for a reason. Every lesson she will ever need to learn about herself is waiting up there in that sky, and all she has to do is look up.”

Molly adores her mother, but Violet dies young, leaving Molly only her grandfather’s copper pan for finding gold. The pan has poetic clues engraved around the edges, and Molly thinks they are a treasure map to the gold that was stolen and put a curse on her family. She needs to find it and return it.

Her father and uncle, Horace and Aubrey Hook, are obsessed with finding gold, especially Aubrey, and the book eventually takes them through parts of Australia’s Northern Territory. But before then, Molly discovers Uncle Aubrey is digging up graves and stealing rings and jewels and anything of value. She reads the engravings and poems on the headstones and begins writing her own.

“She etched the poem into the back of a nameless gravestone deep in the south-western corner of Hollow Wood. She used all the creatures she sees in the cemetery to represent things inside her uncle that can’t be seen from outside. She wrote it out of anger, like all her best poems.
The bird said he dug for the bread
The scorpion said he dug for treasure
The worm said he dug for the dead
The snake said he dug for pleasure

It was a poem about how Molly believed it wasn’t the precious metal that her uncle was hoping to find in all these graves, it was the glowing – the brief flash of new light the dug-up gold brought into his world. There was a kind of love in it, she thought. A romance, maybe. Lust, surely. Not the picture-theatre kind, but a darker kind that dwells in shadows and never sleeps. The Edgar Allan Poe kind.”

Uncle Aubrey is to be avoided. Bad guy.

Molly is fixated on graves, dying, epitaphs and clues. The conceit the author uses to identify her shovel as her only friend is interesting the first time or two but seems overdone as the story progresses. She talks to the sky and likes to think the sky is advising her, but she seems to know she's imagining that, I think.

“The gravedigger girl and Bert the shovel standing alone and silent before Tom Berry’s grave, with the sun in the middle of the sky. Molly reads her grandfather’s epitaph. Her eyes are drawn to the same sentence they’re always drawn to.”

And then, the bombs. The Japanese bombed the bejeezus out of Darwin in WW2, and that leads to a second storyline with a Japanese pilot, pining for his wife and not wanting to hurt the people on the ground. He’d rather fly his plane into a mountain and end it all, but he’s over flat country.

Adding Yukio and a cabaret performer and some leprous miners to a quest story that wanders through the Litchfield area south of Darwin makes a very odd tale indeed, and I have to say I never warmed to any of the characters. Some of the descriptive writing makes up for that, so I began skimming the slow parts rather than giving up entirely, and I’m glad I read it.

I loved his first book, Boy Swallows Universe and wish I'd loved this one, too.

Overall, it wasn’t for me, but I know it will have fans, and I thank NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted.
Profile Image for Gloria (Ms. G's Bookshelf).
643 reviews136 followers
November 19, 2020
⭐️4 Stars⭐️
All Our Shimmering Skies is part magical realism and part adventure, it's bustling with unrestrained imagination and the atmospheric beauty of the Australian NT wetlands flora, fauna and landscapes.

Several pages into the book the story felt a touch oddball to me but once I got intune with the author’s mythical type storytelling I really enjoyed the energy of it.

Our protagonist Molly Hook is larger than life, she is hugely likeable and a gravedigger's daughter. Molly lives with her violent father and evil uncle, she loves poetry and believes her heart is on the verge of turning to stone because there is a curse on her family. Molly’s mother died when she was seven and she believed the day her mother died she was given a magical gift from the sky and as a result of this gift she embarks on a quest to cure the curse that has plagued her family for decades.

The day Molly sets off on her daring quest with Greta Maze an aspiring actress, she is a determined twelve year old and her town is in the aftermath of the Japanese bombings in Darwin during World War II where the dead and injured have fallen and the town is bomb-scarred and ravaged.

You’ll find splendid characters including a Japanese naval fighter pilot named Yukio and Aboriginal elder Longcoat Bob. There is a lot of brutality, darkness and violence in the story but also a lot of beauty and light. It’s serious, it’s ridiculous and it’s enchanting.
Profile Image for Neale .
310 reviews143 followers
October 31, 2020
The novel opens with Molly and her mother, Violet, standing next to the headstone of Molly’s grandfather, Tom Berry, and the epitaph tells the story of how Molly’s family is cursed. Cursed because her grandfather stole gold from a character named Longcoat Bob.

In reference to the title of the novel, Molly’s mother, Violet tells her that the sky is her best friend. Look to the sky she tells her. It has all the answers.

Unfortunately, Violet is dying and tells Molly that this moment is the last they will spend together before Violet ascends into the sky. Molly’s sadness and grief is slightly assuaged when Violet tells her, in another reference to the title, she will always be there above her in the sky and that she will send gifts. In a terribly sad passage, Violet tells Molly to look at the sky for the first gift. She tells her not to look back and retreats, disappearing from Molly’s life.

When Molly’s eyes begin to water from staring at the sky for so long, she turns to find a box on the grave. A box which contains a copper pan used when panning for gold. The first sky gift.

On the underside of the pan is a cryptic passage,

“The Longer I stand, the shorter I grow, And the water runs to the silver road”

This is followed by a second equally enigmatic passage,

“West where the yellow fork man leads East in the dark when the wool bleeds”

There are more words, the entire underside of the pan seems to be a riddle, or map, and Molly is perplexed but entirely captured with curiosity.

We are then whisked away, ironically into the sky, and introduced to Yukio Miki, a Japanese fighter pilot who is on his way to Pearl Harbor, protecting the bombers and their lethal payload, in his Zero fighter. He carries in his cockpit a sword crafted by his father who was a master at creating swords.

Yukio has lost his wife to an illness we are not told of. He has no passion for the war and invasion and yearns to be reunited with her in the next life. He doesn't know it but he is the second sky gift.

Perspective changes like this abound throughout this novel, with changes occurring regularly. We even get to see the world through the eyes of a crocodile, but this seemed more of a novelty than anything else, not contributing anything to the narrative.

Just like in “Boy Swallows Universe”, Dalton has again gifted the reader with a wonderful protagonist in Molly. She is a joy to read and is the novel's greatest strength.

The Hook family, which now consists of only Molly her father and her uncle, own the Hollow Wood Cemetery. However, I would not advise burying a family member there as the Hook brothers have a tendency to dig down into the graves and rob the occupant of any valuables they were buried with. Gravediggers by day, graverobbers by night.

Molly is terribly mistreated by her Uncle and Father, who are slowly drinking themselves to death. Molly is flogged mercilessly with the razor strop for the slightest indiscretion.

Molly strongly believes in the curse. She believes that it turned her mother’s heart to stone. She feels that her own is slowly solidifying, getting heavier in her chest every day. The only thing to do is to go and meet this Longcoat Bob character and get him to lift the curse.

So, in a nutshell, that is our narrative. Molly going on an adventure through the Northern Territory’s wetlands to find the man who cursed her family and get him to lift the said curse.

There is no doubt that Molly is the star of this novel. She is a wonderful character, and her conversations with Yukio, the downed Japanese fighter pilot, in which she continues to amaze him with Australia’s fauna and flora, are for me the highlights of the novel. The passages where Molly is trying to teach Yukio Australian slang particularly enjoyable and memorable.

There are passages where Yukio is simply stunned with all the wildlife, the insects, the birds, the trees and flowers, that he believes he is in paradise. These passages are beautifully descriptive, almost showing off how stunning and unique our country, with its diverse range of life, can be.

If you are looking for a realistic book, you may find yourself disappointed. This novel, much like “Boy Swallows Universe” is dipped in magical realism. There is a definite feeling of good versus evil, with the characters, almost like archetypes, only enhancing this feeling.

A terribly enjoyable read, that slightly fails to reach the heights of Dalton’s wonderful debut. 4 Stars.
Profile Image for cypt.
526 reviews664 followers
April 6, 2022

Kaip sako Kmita, šiuo metu turbūt bet kokia knyga arba patvirtina vykstantį siaubą, arba atrodo paika. Gal būtent iš tokio sentimento taip negalėjau pakęsti naujojo Daltono. Ar jis bandė patobulinti / perspjauti Ten, kur gieda vėžiai? Ar jis parašė 440 psl ilgio Alchemiką+Mažąjį princą? Ar jis bandė "parduoti" Australijos gamtą? Ar jis bandė uždirbti iš 2 pasaulinio karo tematikos ir tropų? Nu taip.

1. Viršelis.

1. Pagrindinė veikėja - našlaitė mergaitė, ją labai skriaudžia dėdė, linkintis mirties. Bet ji įveiks visas negandas, perskaičiusi mistines nuorodas ant senovinio bliūdelio nukeliaus į aukso lobyną miške ir sužinos Širdies Paslaptį (galvoja, kad Mistinis Aborigenas užkeikė jos giminę ir jos širdis dabar akmeninė).

2. Karo tematika: Australija 1942 m. bombarduojama japonų, bet pas našlaitę mergaitę nukrenta Tas Vienintelis Taikus Naikintuvo Pilotas. Paskui jis su japonišku kardu nusmeigia daug blogiečių ir pats žūna, o geriečių jisai nežudo.

3. Santa barbaros plot tvistas: Mano Dėdė Yra Mano Tėvas Ir Todėl Mano Mama Nusižudė.

4. Alegorinis siužetas: per visą knygą mergaitė našlaitė su 2 draugais keliauja, kad atrastų a) mistinę, tik iš pasakojimų žinomą aukso grynuolių pilną olą, b) paslaptingą tos olos sergėtoją Ilgašvarkį Bobą, kuris prieš šimtą metų prakeikė mergaitės tėvą ir nuo tada jos disfunkcinę giminę lydi nelaimės. Bobo prašys nuimti burtą. Šitas pasakos siužetas dar prikištas karo realijų (pabombina miestus), istorinių razinkų (raupsuotųjų prievartautojų, norinčių sukurti Naują Pasaulį, kolonija-sekta miške), sodrių gamtos aprašymų, trilerio elementų, fantastinių elementų (kalne gyvena Požemio Pasaulio Sekta, kuri siekia panardinti užklydėlius į amžiną miegą, kad tie regėtų amžinus sapnus ir iš tiesų negyventų, tik vegetuotų; kažkur girdėta, gerai kad nuo Platono mirties jau praėję daugiau kaip 70 metų ir nebegalioja autorinės teisės). Etc. Mergaitė visą laiką kalba su dangum ir dangus jai atsako. Pasakos gale mergaitė sužino, kad jos širdis - ne akmuo, o auksas, ir kad toks akmuo, kurį ji rado mamos kapo duobėj tarp a. a. mamos šonkaulių, iš tiesų yra aukso grynuolis. Taip viskas ir išsisprendžia.
Kas išsisprendžia? Kaip? Tiesiog baigiasi knygos puslapiai ir galima lengviau atsikvėpti.

Alegorijos, alchemiko ar mažojo princo tipo, veiksmingos tada, kai jos yra trumpos, aiškios, poetiškos, kai jose nėra nereikalingų dalykų. Atsimenu, vienu metu - prieš kokius 20 metų - buvo populiaru, ar bent tam tikruose ratuose populiaru, Bruno Ferrero istorijos. Jų esmė ir buvo ta, kad visas nerealistinis, bet Dvasingas siužetas tilpdavo į kokius 4 mažos knygelės puslapius, kunigas jas atpasakodavo per pamokslus, kiti skaitytojai ir ypač skaitytojos rašydavo ant atvirukų.... nu gal neišsiplėsiu :D Bet tai buvo intensyvesnis dvasinis gyvenimas nei 440 psl šnekų, kaip rasti savo Auksinę Širdį. Geriau tada pažiūrėti Von Triero "Auksaširdės" trilogiją ta pačia tema, bus daugiau dramos, neteisybių, estetikos ir meno, o ir užtruks gerokai trumpiau.

5. Nu ir tiesiog banalus daugiažodžiavimas ir grafomanija:
[...] liūdesys yra pats nuoširdžiausias jausmas [...]. Laime negalima pasitikėti. Ji begėdiška melagė. Tačiau liūdesio nuoširdumas sustiprina visus kitus jausmus, ypač džiaugsmą. Nebijok pasinerti ten, kur tave ims liūdesys, Mole Huk. Kuo dažniau pasinersi į tą tamsią slaptavietę, tuo šviesesnė ji darysis. Ganėtinai dažnai ten pabuvojusi suprasi, kad ta tamsi vieta iš tikrųjų yra tavo šventvietė. Ta vieta - tavo esybėm o jos sužadintos ašaros - tai lašas po lašo išvarvanti tamsa. (p. 68)

Jukijas linkteli galvą. Jis pažvelgia Gretai į akis, ir tai, ką regi jos žaliose rainelių galaktikose, anaiptol nesusilpnina jo nuomonės, kad jis galbūt nukrito į savąją Takamanoharą.
Ir Greta tą minutę pajunta iš piloto akių sklindant kažką keisto, trikdančio ir švelnaus, todėl nusisuka, ir jiedu ima pėdinta šalia vienas kito siauru taku tarp aukštų miško medžių ir tankių glūdumos brūzgynų. (p. 319)

Greta įdėmiai jį stebi. Mato, kad jis kalba taip, tarsi kiekviena mintis plauktų iš sielos ir kiekvienas žodis būtų nudažytas širdies krauju. (p. 321)

Bet tada Molė išgirsta pianino akordus, sklindančius nuo tako atšakos, vedančios į rytus per dar tankesnį vijoklių prižėlusį musoninį mišką, kuriame auga juodosios akacijos, muilo medžiai, apkibę plokščiais apskritais juodais vaisiais, bei medžiai marga gelsvai pilka žieve ir standžiais lapais, pilni smulkių prinokusių raudonų vaisių. Visi medžiai apraizgyti lianų oranžiškai geltonais jūrų žvaigždės formos žiedais, ir tie melancholiški pianino akordai plaukia per visą sąžalyną tarsi nuliūdinti vaiduokliai. (p. 345)
Profile Image for Kate Jennings LLL.
25 reviews3 followers
November 11, 2020
I absolutely loved Boy Swallows Universe and have been counting The days to read this book and was so ready to love it too (while managing expectations because a tour de force like that only comes once from an author).

But sadly no. This one didn’t hit it for me. I found it a really long read and had to force myself to slog through it. It was just too fantastical. The dialogue too clunky and forced and way too heavy w symbolism. If I had to read ‘dig molly dig’ one more time I was going to scream 😅. It’s the story of a young girl from a rough family, in the middle of the Darwin bombings back in the 1940s (I enjoyed reading about this), she takes a journey into the outback on a rather bizarre quest. It just didn’t work for me. It was too forced, overdone and silly. It felt like Dalton was trying to write a book with an eye on it becoming a movie 🤷🏻‍♀️. One random violent action scene inserted, then four pages of scenery descriptions. It was just too much. Many of the characters were caricatures, the story took bizarre turns and it was just way too long.

Wow this is a harsh review, I’m sorry!!! but only bc I think I’m just shocked or maybe let down - too invested maybe!? I think this one overshot and Dalton should go back to what he knows and writes about so authentically.
Profile Image for Katie.
66 reviews
July 12, 2020
Honestly could not get on board with this book. Loved BSU but this one just did not hit any of the marks for me. A little dull and meandering. Had to force myself through every page.
Profile Image for Sarah.
749 reviews132 followers
May 11, 2022
I found All Our Shimmering Skies a magical read, simultaneously harrowing and hopeful in its luminous depictions of humanity and the Australian landscape.


The book opens with a brief first section ("The First Sky Gift") in which we meet the novel's heroine as a seven-year-old girl. Molly Hook has already worked for a year, digging graves in the cemetery managed by her ineffectual alcoholic father, Horace, and his brutal brother, Aubrey. After a final conversation with her mother, imaginative Molly must place her trust in her best friend, Bert (a spade) and the night sky, with whom she converses and can always rely on for the truth.


Six years later, the Second World War has come to Darwin, and on the morning of 19 February 1942, the city is bombed by the Japanese airforce. Trent Dalton's description of this historic event evokes a visceral response. For Molly Hook, however, the bombing represents an opportunity to escape the confines of her life and pursue a family legend. With Aubrey's actress girlfriend, Greta Maze, Molly leaves the carnage of Darwin behind, heading south-west into the area that is now the Litchfield National Park.


Following the mysteriously poetic and cryptic instructions etched into a copper gold pan, Molly and Greta enter an ancient and majestic landscape, facing a series of dramatic human and environmental challenges along the way. Early in their adventure, they're joined by Yukio Miki, a disillusioned Japanese fighter pilot, with whom they form an uneasy alliance.


All Our Shimmering Skies is a strange and mystical novel, embracing and celebrating the dreamtime character of the ruggedly beautiful landscape in Australia's "Top End". Molly is an effervescent character, transcending her deprived early life in her quest for adventure and truth. She's well supported by her two adult companions, Greta and Yukio. All three undergo a substantial character catharsis during their time in the bush. The growing rapport between the three, despite the language barrier, is heart-warming and brings many moments of levity between the more confronting threats that the group must overcome in the course of their journey.


Characters are very clearly cast as heroes or villains in the narrative, and there are distinct echoes of Homeric myth and didactic tales from the western tradition, skilfully interwoven with indigenous wisdom and mythology.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a simply beautiful novel, and one that I hope to return to re-read in the future.
Profile Image for Thomas.
432 reviews9 followers
February 12, 2020
There's only people, Molly. There are good ones and there are bad ones and then there's all of us nuts stuck in the middle.

This is so very different to Boy Swallows Universe, and yet similar at the same time. It's a completely new story in a new time and new place, but that Dalton voice is just as strong and descriptive and captive. It's kinda like an outback Wizard of Oz but with slightly less magic (or more depending on your point of view). Trent walks the tightrope between brutal and beautiful with his story of Molly and sky gifts and utopias and Hells and crocs, salties and freshies both. It's magica; and fantastical but so, so down to earth. You'll love it, guaranteed.
Profile Image for T.D. Whittle.
Author 3 books190 followers
February 11, 2021
This book is a delight. To enjoy it fully, I believe it's helpful to approach it as an Australian fairy tale, some of it rooted in history but the overall feel being mythopoeic. It is brutal in many parts which I often find overwhelming but it was necessary to the story and not gratuitous, so I persisted and am glad I did. Like its protagonist, Molly Hook, All Our Shimmering Skies is both poetic and graceful. I have already bought another copy for a friend, and recommend it without reservation.
Profile Image for Sharon Metcalf.
735 reviews166 followers
September 30, 2020
Molly Hook was a character for readers to love, to pour our sympathies upon and to cheer on.    When she was only seven her mother passed on some words of wisdom  before  saying goodbye and leaving this earthly world forever.   She implored Molly to live a grand and beautiful life.  To be poetic and to be graceful.    To be strong.   To know she is blessed regardless of what anyone else may say.    To know, and always remember, this place is hard but her heart is as hard as a rock, so hard it cannot be broken.   To know that whenever Molly needed her Mum she need only look to the sky.  

Aubrey Hook was a character to loathe and to feel angered about.      As Molly's uncle and nemesis, he was the antagonist of the piece and oh how I wished for his demise.    Fortunately Molly had taken her mothers words seriously because the treatment she was exposed to at the hands of this hateful,  hate filled and hate fuelled man required her to be strong at all times.    Sure he may have had a hard road himself but I felt no sympathy for this character who doled out psychological and physical mistreatment like any other uncle might dish out lollies and lavish love upon a neice.

These were not the only characters in Trent Daltons latest novel All Our Shimmering Skies.  The others were an unlikely bunch and I love how this author introduces characters who smash the stereotypes.    In an Australian book set in WWII, right at the time when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese, Dalton gives us a Japanese fighter pilot to adore.   In an Australia where  Aboriginal communities are often harmed by alcohol abuse  Dalton turns the tables.   The white Aussie men were the ones who succumbed to the demon drink whilst he delivered some indigenous characters to truly admire and respect. 

Delivering characters a reader can be emotion filled and
passionate about is one of the hallmarks of Trent Dalton's writing.   However this talented author has more than one string to his bow.    Not only does he bring great characters alive but he has an incredible gift for story telling.    This novel  is infused with a magical blend of fact and fantasy.   He incorporated a slice of Australia's WWII history (the little known story of the bombing of Darwin).  He blended Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and literary references from some of the greats (Dickinson, Shakespeare & Walt Whitman to name just a few).    All this good stuff was mixed it with a chunk of adventure and a dollop of fantasy.    That he so expertly meshes all these elements into a cohesive story is admirable.

When it comes to creating a setting Dalton is an expert.    He used his mastery of words to paint a picture of the majestic scenery of the Northern Territory complete with the beauty and wonder of the wildlife.  And it's not just the sights and sounds of nature he managed to authentically reproduce but also the people.   Dalton incorporated a  bit of Strine, some Aussie rhyming slang and vernacular into his dialogue.

This is a unique story.   It's a 1950's adventure story.   It's a story of opposites.   There's light and darkness, goodness and evil, there's beauty but also ugliness.  There's sadness but there's hope.   There are curses and hearts of stone - definitely figuratively but quite possibly literally.   But there's also joy, unlikely friendships, beautiful life lessons and messages of love taken from the epitaphs on gravestones and from the pages of treasured books.
I don't relish suspending my disbelief which was at times necessary in this story, but I do relish the way Trent Dalton writes.   Without a shadow of doubt I will have my hands up for whatever he decides to write next.    He's that good.  

My sincere thanks to Trent Dalton,  Harper Collins Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.

4.5 stars on GoodReads
26 reviews2 followers
October 5, 2020
OMG, I'm going to be unpopular. I was so looking forward to this book and am so disappointed. I have given it a one-star as I can't bring myself to finish it. Half way through and I have to force myself to pick it up. Molly is just not doing it - you have to have some sense that the character could be a real person, but sorry Trent you have missed the mark. It is disjointed, drags on, and overall boring. I wonder whether the raving reviews on the back cover are 'paid' reviews as I cannot see it worthy of categorizing this book as a 'classic'.
Profile Image for Cass Moriarty.
Author 2 books175 followers
September 28, 2020
Those of you who are parents of more than one will know that feeling when your second child is about to arrive and you cannot imagine you will love them any more than you love your first. For Trent Dalton fans, it will be difficult to envisage feeling as much for anyone other than Eli Bell from his debut novel Boy Swallows Universe, but be prepared to watch your love expand, because Molly Hook has arrived. Dalton’s new book All Our Shimmering Skies (4th Estate Harper Collins 2020) gifts us another child protagonist that will capture your heart and open your eyes to wonder.
This book is a fable and a fairytale, a wild flight of fancy and imagination, a hero’s quest, a journey for hidden treasure, a story of curses and promises and gifts and loss. While Boy Swallows Universe was sometimes weighed down by the (admittedly, fairly fluid) parameters of autobiography, mostly a sense that the author was guided or hampered by his responsibility to the real characters in the book, this is not the case in All Our Shimmering Skies. Dalton’s full capacity for fictional imagination takes off with no boundaries and no constraints. With a wicked father and an evil uncle, a mysterious figure cloaked in mystery, young romance, grief and lost love, generations of hatred and revenge, thwarted desire and unrequited ambitions, a quest for treasure, fantastical obstacles thrown up at every turn, and in the midst of it all, a quirky group of travelling companions, Dalton has created a wild and evocative tale of hope, heart, wonder and love conquering hate and fear.
Set in Darwin during the Second World War, the chief protagonist is Molly Hook, only seven when we first meet her, but aged 12 for most of the story. Molly is the gravedigger’s daughter, which doesn’t even achieve capitalisation but is the only way she has ever been known. Her playground is the sad and empty space of Hollow Wood Cemetery, not that she ever has time to play as she is too busy with the adult work of actually digging the graves. The epitaphs on the headstones serve as reminders of those gone, the pain of those grieving, the shortness of life and the inevitability of death.
Molly loses her mother early and is left in the clutches of her disconnected father and her abusive uncle. She knows her family is cursed and that she has a heart of stone. She talks to the sky and it talks back, although the night sky tells her different to the day sky. She strikes up a friendship with Greta, one-time lover of her Uncle Aubrey, an actress searching for her time in the limelight, a hard woman with a steely resolve and a soft spot for Molly. The two team up with Yukio, a Japanese fighter pilot fallen from the sky, as they embark on a journey to follow a poetic map etched on a gold-panning dish to find Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer that she believes has cursed her family from generations before. The dark shadows chase them close behind all the way, but above them – always – are the shimmering skies.
The word shimmering appears again and again in the book – it describes bodies of water, sparkling mica underfoot, and of course the endless blue shimmering skies that look down from above on all the troubles and misfortunes and occasional good luck that befalls the hapless humans below. Like a myth or a legend, the shimmering skies, and the sky gifts that fall from them, represent eternal optimism, the search for gold of true worth, hope where it doesn’t seem possible hope can be found, and the comfort and joy of friendship and love.
Parts of this story are grim, visceral, heartbreaking and brutal. There are scenes no 12-year-old girl should ever have to see, let alone experience. There are trials and tribulations that seem impossible to impose on her. And yet Molly Hook survives, by putting one foot in front of the other and never losing sight of her goal or her dreams or her moral compass. For enduring these cruel passages, the reader is rewarded by a thread of hopeful redemption that twists through the story like a song line.
Indigenous culture is referenced respectfully throughout the novel and in fact lies at the very heart of the story. Dalton has clearly done his research. The Top End of Australia is exposed and celebrated in all its glorious colour and unique environmental features. The landscape is examined in detail; flora and fauna are depicted in a bright cacophony of awe and wonder. For anyone who has lived in the Northern Territory or visited Darwin, these descriptions will feel completely authentic, and for those who haven’t, this book will make you want to go there and experience the raw, natural environment for yourself. Harsh, unpredictable, dangerous, awe-inspiring, beautiful, peaceful – this could be an ad for the next NT tourism campaign.
And the 70 000 years of unbroken Indigenous culture are heralded as something to be cherished and nourished and nurtured. Dalton does a great job of seamlessly moving from the original inhabitants of the land to the Aboriginals of today, and of highlighting their continued connection to the land, their deep understanding of country, their respect for and unbreakable ties with the animals and birds and plants of this continent, and the abiding knowledge and understanding that Aboriginal people hold for their land. In the hands of a less able author, this delicate inclusion of so much Indigenous heritage and culture might have been a dangerous balance, but Dalton is so completely respectful and humbled by Aboriginal culture, and this shines through every aspect of the story. This may be a fable, and he does make use of magical realism to elaborate the story, but his inclusion of Aboriginal history is moving and very well crafted.
As someone who lived for five years in Japan, I also found the creation of the Japanese character Yukio to be respectfully authentic, with the included Japanese myths and stories ringing true.
Molly Hook is an unforgettable character with pluck and verve. She reminded me a little of Sheryl Gwyther’s Addie in Sweet Adversity (a middle grade book) – same ferocity and tenderness, same love of Shakespeare, same timeframe, same difficult circumstances to overcome.
Molly and her best friend Bert (a gravedigging shovel), her hope in the gifts that fall from the sky, her endless optimism despite the dire circumstances of her life, her persistence, her courage, her unrelenting belief in the goodness to be found in the hardest of hearts, her open generosity of spirit and her determination to uncover the truth, will fracture you and then piece you together all over again.
All Our Shimmering Skies is a story to plunge into headfirst, suspending your disbelief and immersing yourself in the lovely lilt of the language, the beauty of the landscape, the pain and hope and love of the human heart. The ending or resolution is achieved in a much more sophisticated way than in Boy Swallows Universe, testament to Dalton’s increased confidence as a writer and as mentioned earlier, by the fact that he has allowed himself untrammelled access to his imagination. This new book is a classic story that will stay with readers and inspire awe and wonder.
Profile Image for Gabrielė || book.duo.
235 reviews266 followers
January 5, 2022
T. Daltono talentas nenuginčijamas. Autorius moka kurti be galo įdomius ir niekur anksčiau nesutiktus veikėjus, jo fantazija, rodos, beribė, o meilė Australijai sunkiasi iš kiekvieno romano puslapio. Skaitant jo knygas jautiesi atsidūręs tarsi kitame pasaulyje, kurį rašytojas kuria itin kinematografiškai, o kur dar magijos prieskonis, viską perkeliantis į kitą lygmenį. Ir visgi, nors įsimylėjau debiutinį autoriaus romaną „Berniukas nuryja visatą“ ir iš antrosios knygos tikėjausi ne ką silpnesnio įspūdžio, skaudančia širdimi turiu pripažinti, kad taip pat sužavėta nelikau.

Taip, istorija ir šį kartą labai kitokia bei originali. Taip, veikėjai artimi, jų patirtys skaudžios, norisi už juos sirgti. Tačiau senokai skaičiau romaną, kuriame buvo tiek daugžodžiavimo. Kad ir koks talentingas yra Daltonas, kad ir koks nuostabus knygos vertimas, laikui bėgant ėmiau skenuoti tam tikras teksto vietas, nes pasikartojimų ėmė tik daugėti, pavyzdžių buvo pateikiama ne po vieną ar tris, o po kokius dešimt, ir atrodė, kad autorius turi tikslą į tekstą įterpti visus įmanomus egzotiškus Australijos augalus, vabzdžius ir gyvūnus. Galiausiai pagrindinė kūrinio istorija pasimeta toje gausybėje detalių, pasikartojimai priverčia ją išsitęsti ir jos įspūdis išblėsta, o tu tiesiog nekantrauji pasiekti pabaigą. Pasaką primenantis siužetas – mergaitės kelionė siekiant išgelbėti savo šeimos likimą, – kad ir koks magiškas, vietomis atrodė naivokas, o ir juo atskleidžiamos pamokos nežymiai išsisemia. Noriu tikėti, kad gera (t. y. griežta) kūrinio redakcija būtų kai kurias šių problemų išsprendusi.

Ir visgi žinau, kad skaitysiu kitus T. Daltono kūrinius. Nes kažką ypatingo jis turi. Nes negaliu paneigti, kad tam tikromis akimirkomis nesijaučiau įkvėpta, arba kad Australija šiame romane neatsiskleidė visu savo magišku grožiu. Neabejoju, daug kam šis kūrinys kris tiesiai į širdį, ir tiems žmonėms tikrai linkiu jį atrasti – o aš šiek tiek paliūdėsiu dėl neišpildytų lūkesčių ir kada nors grįšiu prisiminti „Berniuko, kuris nuryja visatą“.
Profile Image for Pauline.
266 reviews117 followers
September 29, 2020
After LOVING Boy Swallows Universe, this book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 and I know I’m not alone in that. I’m happy to report that...it did not disappoint!

At the heart of the story, we have Molly Hook, a 12 year old girl who’s a bit of an oddball - she talks to the sky, digs graves for all her childhood and has a shovel as a best friend. As she runs away from bomb-ravaged Darwin into deep-country Northern Territory in 1942, she comes across Greta, a sassy actress from her hometown and Yukio, a fallen Japanese pilot.

AOSS is part adventure in the bush, part family drama and, just like BSU, it’s sprinkled with many magical realism elements. Dalton’s somehow managed to create another world that has such similar feels to his debut, and yet so different. His writing stayed true to form - it’s captivating and rich in details. He took his time in building the setting and the world around his characters. In the hands of a less skilled writer, the plot may end up being too imaginative but we now know that he has such a way with words, that he made it all come together so beautifully!

This book is certainly atmospheric, and it describes the Australian bush in such a tender, poetic way. I would also love to see this being optioned for a film, i have no doubt it would be fantastic visually! All in all, it was wonderful read and i’m certain that it will be loved by many.
Profile Image for Natalie M.
1,128 reviews34 followers
November 30, 2020
Best cover winner but not nearly as engaging as ‘Boy Swallows Universe’.

The stunning cover and Dalton’s previous novel had me diving in feet first. I watched the author interview (book sounded fascinating) and loved the idea of some escapist realism.

Sadly, this novel was just too repetitive and could have used a good culling. Molly Hook, the 12-year-old grave diggers daughter and her trusty shovel Burt narrate the story starting around the time the Japanese bomb Darwin in WWII. The characterisation is intriguing, the Australian Top End setting magnificent but the magic was lost in the redundancy.

Interesting premise, lost in execution.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,387 reviews115 followers
August 1, 2021
A tantalizing story about good and evil, hope and curses, and a quest to right a wrong. Sounds like a children’s fantasy, doesn’t it? Not so fast; the story also includes adult themes of toxic masculinity that perpetuate patterns of abuse that they endured as children.

Molly Hook lost her mother when she was seven, and her father during a 1942 Japanese air raid when she was thirteen. The only family she has left is her abusive, grave-robbing Uncle Aubrey. Molly believes that it is all due to the curse of Longcoat Bob, an Aboriginal elder, when her grandfather, Tom Berry, stole gold from Bob’s ancestral lands. So, she sets out to correct this wrong and have the curse lifted. She is soon joined on her quest by the actress Greta and eventually, Yukio Miki, a Japanese fighter pilot.

Along the way, Dalton gifts readers with exquisite descriptions of deserts, waterfalls, mazes, stone monoliths, and Aboriginal cave paintings. Enjoy courageous Molly Hook’s journey that includes magical realism.
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,097 reviews7 followers
December 9, 2020
This book has all the elements I loved about Boy Swallows Universe.

Vivid and larger-than-life characters, an imaginative story like and a main character that still retains some innocence and wonder about the world even if her life has been marked with violence and loss.

It is 1942 and Molly Hook is a gravedigger girl, working with her father and uncle in Darwin’s only graveyard. The men supplement their income by grave robbing because gold fever is almost worse than the desire to drink. But hardship is be expected because there has long been a curse on Molly’s family turning their hearts to stone one by one.

When WW2 Japanese fighter pilots bomb Darwin her whole life shatters and Molly decides to track down the man responsible for this curse. Together with charming Greta and a fallen Japanese fighter pilot they set off into the wilderness. Each needing to fight their own demons along the way.

I have such admiration for this author’s writing, yet this story felt convoluted and it failed to charm me as much as Boy Swallows Universe.

I didn’t expect the ending to be as predictable as it turned out to be. Some elements were thrown in with the sole purpose of just adding another surreal layer to a story that is already chock full of it.

For anyone not familiar with this author I would rather recommend Boy Swallows Universe.
Profile Image for Sarah Sophie.
185 reviews216 followers
May 3, 2023
Puh, nach den ersten 150 Seiten musste ich erstmal Luft holen. Wieviel kann ein kleines Mädchen aushalten? Als dann aber Mollys Reise ins australische Outback beginnt, eröffnet sich die vielfältige Natur in ihrer Schönheit aber auch Magie.. die Mythen und Traumpfade der indigenen Bevölkerung Australiens fließen ein in diesen Text..
Molly muss sich auf ihrer Reise vielen Widrigkeiten stellen, wird viel Schönes, ja fast traumhaftes, erleben, aber vor allem zu sich selber finden. Ob sie Longcoat Bob, der vor Jahren ihre Familie verfluchte, finden kann? Ob er den Fluch der versteinerten Herzen aufheben wird? Und ob ihre beiden ungewöhnlichen Reisebegleiter ihr helfen können auf ihrem Weg?
Ich habe dem Buch 3 Sterne gegeben, da der Einstieg schwer war. Ab Seite 200 lohnt es sich aber. Manchmal wusste ich nicht so recht ob ich mich in einem Traum oder der Wirklichkeit befinde.. kennt ihr die Szene aus Dumbo, wo die schrägen, leicht gruseligen bunten Elefanten auftauchen? So weird und irgendwie verstörend kamen mir auch manche Szenen in diesem Buch vor.. das war einfach für meinen Geschmack drüber.. Alles in Allem ein Buch, das die Natur Australiens feiert. Die Liebe zu diesem Land habe ich dem Autor abgenommen!
Profile Image for Anna Loder.
525 reviews18 followers
April 25, 2020
What an epic quest. So different from what I was expecting. So much more than what I was expecting. Beautiful girls doing unbelievable things. It is such evocative language “knobs turning, doors opening, cupboards slamming shut...”. Such beautiful messages “I think we’re supposed to to find ourselves things to etch”; a world where gold rots and people are neither good nor bad. I loved it, it’s not boy swallows it’s all our shimmering skies
Profile Image for Julia.
9 reviews2 followers
November 23, 2020
Loved Boy Swallows Universe but this was a total dud. Long-winded, contrived and repetitive. And who thought “Yukio’s squinting eyes look up to the sky...” was ok to describe a Japanese character. If I read “dig Molly dig” one more time I was hoping it would be my grave. Biggest disappointment of 2020.
Profile Image for Akvilina Cicėnaitė.
Author 19 books236 followers
November 19, 2021
Mixed feelings, bet jei trumpai - iš pradžių patraukė, galiausiai neįtikino. Papirko australiškos gamtos vaizdais, nuvylė siužetu. Tekstas ištęstas, daug pasikartojimų (dig, Molly, dig...), daug bereikalingu atrodančio smurto, dramos, magijos, pompastikos - regis, autorius tiek užsigroži savo rašymu, kad pamiršta bepradedantį žiovauti skaitytoją. O galėjo būti visokeriopai puikus kūrinys.
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,579 reviews66 followers
August 30, 2021
Stark, brutal beginning intertwined with moments of magic, robustness and determination.

The composition of the chapters read like a songline across the Northern Territory landscape, pulling in the sights, sounds and aspects of country. The bull ant climbing across the gravestone, the endless sky, the black rock frog roc, all forming a rich background that waits—for stories to unfold as time hangs suspended.
A curse and family secrets. The young grave digger girl Molly Hook, the dying mother, the despicable men of the family—all is lost and harsh.
1942, the bombing of Darwin and falling into another scene complete with a Japanese pilot and the old fire-forged shortsword his father had handed him.
Throughout all the night sky is watching.
Absorbingly weird, poetically charged, with snatches of magic realism etched across the pages that carry one on a wild journey at the top end Australia.
A read that keeps you on your toes, grasping for the next piece of the puzzle.

A Harper ARC via NetGalley
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