Review: This One Sky Day by Leone Ross (2021)

Blurb

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho.

The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do:

A wedding feast to conjure and cook
An infidelity to investigate
A lost soul to set free

As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same. The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.

Review

I knew I was going to love this book. I’m a sucker for magical realism, and the lush, strange, evocative descriptions of the archipelago of Popisho captured me immediately. My edition is also a thing of physical beauty, with a gorgeous cover and stunning sprayed edges – perfectly representing the treasure that lies within its pages.

The opening is powerful: Xavier’s wife, Nya, washes up on the beach dead but still speaking, an immediate taste of the almost mythic mode that the novel operates in. As we learn more about each inhabitant, and their magic, or ‘cors’ is revealed, the story gets richer and richer, a multi-coloured tapestry woven with dazzlingly bright threads. It is a literary feast of many different flavours, as unique and delicious as one of Xavier’s meals. The writing is both lyrical and visceral, with a raw, pumping heart that splashes blood and sex and death onto the page among the lighter moments. It is a sensual experience, imbued with flavours, scents, sights; a heady mixture that feels at times like being in a delirious dream.

For me, This One Sky Day combined elements of many of my favourite books: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, The Famished Road by Ben Okri, and the luminous yet threat-tinged stories of Irenosen Okojie’s stunning collection, Nudibranch. I took my time with it, wanting to stay in Popisho as long as possible, and at the end, I was sad to leave it behind. I felt as if I’d been on a sweeping, epic adventure with the characters, one that would continue for them after I closed the book. I’m really looking forward to reading more by this author.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross is published by Faber & Faber and is available to purchase here.

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