Wild Fires – Sophie Jai

Published By: Borough Press 
Pages: 320
Released On: 12/05/2022

Grief is like an inside joke: you have to have been there to really get it.

The only things Cassandra knows about her family are the stories she’s heard in snatches over the years: about the aunt and cousin she never got to meet, about the man from the folded-up photograph in one of her aunt’s drawers, and of course about her cousin Chevy, and why he never speaks – but no one utters a word about them any more.

When a call from one of her sisters brings Cassandra news of Chevy’s death, she has to return home for the funeral. To Toronto and the big house on Florence Street, where her sisters are hiding more than themselves in their rooms, where the tension brewing between her mother and aunts has been decades in the making, and where sooner or later every secret, unspoken word and painful memory will find its way out into the open.

Moving between Toronto and Trinidad, Wild Fires is a vivid and compelling story exploring the ways we mourn and why we avoid the very things that can save us.


Thanks to Borough Press for my gifted proof of this title in return for an honest review and place on the book tour.

I’m glad there was a small family tree at the beginning. It’s a story with a large cast of characters and it’s easy to get muddled up so that was a big help.

This book is a real exploration of character and inter-generational families. It’s not heavy on plot and the narrative doesn’t take up masses of time; instead it focusses on how the family navigate grief whilst rediscovering each other. There’s a nice balance between the present narrative and the backstories of our characters. Some of them have bigger roles than others and some I clicked with more than others – especially the older generations – but they’re all expertly detailed.

On a personal note, I will say I prefer it when speech is not written in a dialect or accent as it removes me from the action and the meaning behind the speech because I’m too focussed on the physical words; and yet I know this can have the opposite effect for other readers, so it’s definitely a personal preference. 

It’s very original, unlike anything I’ve read before. Sophie has really gone to town with the description of place, character and emotion; I think she’s got a successful career ahead of her if this debut is anything to go by.

Not everything is answered in the book, a lot is left up to your own interpretation and understanding, and I think that’s quite nice, as each reader takes something personal away with them.

For me, I found it fascinating to read about characters from a different culture and background as me – it gave me something to think about as well as enjoy.

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