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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 le 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.


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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 le 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.

30 review for All Our Shimmering Skies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Trent Dalton has written another book full of wonderful characters, all encased by a gorgeous cover bursting with colour. His writing is unrestrained and glorious, full of imagination, magic and wonder at the beauty of the world. In his main character, twelve year old Molly Hook, a motherless daughter of a gravedigger, he brings us another memorable character. A girl who loves poetry, talks to the sky and is full of grittiness and determination with a quest to right the wrong imposed on her fami Trent Dalton has written another book full of wonderful characters, all encased by a gorgeous cover bursting with colour. His writing is unrestrained and glorious, full of imagination, magic and wonder at the beauty of the world. In his main character, twelve year old Molly Hook, a motherless daughter of a gravedigger, he brings us another memorable character. A girl who loves poetry, talks to the sky and is full of grittiness and determination with a quest to right the wrong imposed on her family. Set in 1942 in Darwin, as women and children are evacuated and the city prepares for the possibility of war on Australian soil. But with no such care taken of Molly by her drunken father and his violent brother, she's left to her own devices to plan a daring journey into the heart of the Northern Territory's wetlands, following the words of a poem left to her by her mother. Accompanied by her trusty gravedigger's shovel, Bert, and Greta, a beautiful would-be actress, they see wondrous sights, befriend a Japanese fighter pilot and meet outback characters, both good and evil. There are dark and often brutal times as well as unspeakable beauty and over all is Molly's shimmering sky that she trusts to deliver gifts when she most needs them. There is so much packed into this book from the Darwin of the 1940s full of working men, pubs and Aussie slang to the bombing by the Japanese, to fugitive outback miners and the indigenous Australians caring for the land. Dalton has clearly done his research well and then given his imagination free rein. Definitely one of my top books of this year. 4.5★ With many thanks to HarperCollins Australia and Netgalley for a digital arc of this book

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    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 flor 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Banks

    3 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 pros 3 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: https://www.theguardian.com/books/202... 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ally Van Schilt

    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!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    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 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pauline [paulineisreading]

    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 h 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    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 ca 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

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    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 beautifu 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cass Moriarty

    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 anoth 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe was one of my favourite books of 2018. Possibly my favourite book. I've long been a fan of Dalton's writing and though I avoid non-fiction, am generally riveted by his pieces in weekend newspapers. Articles or non-fiction essays about seemingly ordinary people and places, made extraordinary through his telling. Dalton's second novel, All Our Shimmering Skies is quite different to his first. It's far more fantastic and mystical. It's deeper and requires more in Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe was one of my favourite books of 2018. Possibly my favourite book. I've long been a fan of Dalton's writing and though I avoid non-fiction, am generally riveted by his pieces in weekend newspapers. Articles or non-fiction essays about seemingly ordinary people and places, made extraordinary through his telling. Dalton's second novel, All Our Shimmering Skies is quite different to his first. It's far more fantastic and mystical. It's deeper and requires more intellectual translation in many ways. As my taste is fairly prosaic and comprehension very literal I was probably less drawn to the plot. The characters however, are as bewitching as I expected and (again) Dalton's writing is beyond beautiful. Read my review here: https://www.debbish.com/books-literat...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anna Loder

    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

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    This is a fairytale, an odyssey, an adventure. During WWII in Darwin, through the mysterious and mythical Australian top end comes the thrilling and magical tale of Molly Hook - a tough and precocious preteen - who goes on a journey (with the help of a few friends and Sky gifts) to beg an ancient Indigenous sorcerer to lift a curse that has turned her heart to stone. A story that will enchant and delight even the most jaded reader. Have an adventure and discover pure gold.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    This one fell short of my incredibly high expectations (I loved Boy Swallows Universe, and this book has been hyped alot!), yet Dalton's characterization and whimsical prose style continues to enchant me as a reader. I love the energy and fairytale aspect to Dalton's narrative style, and will continue to read future works by him. We follow 12yr old Molly Hook, a motherless daughter of a gravedigger, and she is on an adventure to get to the bottom of a family curse in 1942 as Darwin is being bombe This one fell short of my incredibly high expectations (I loved Boy Swallows Universe, and this book has been hyped alot!), yet Dalton's characterization and whimsical prose style continues to enchant me as a reader. I love the energy and fairytale aspect to Dalton's narrative style, and will continue to read future works by him. We follow 12yr old Molly Hook, a motherless daughter of a gravedigger, and she is on an adventure to get to the bottom of a family curse in 1942 as Darwin is being bombed by the Japanese military. Molly is gifted an object that helps guide her quest, and along her journey to find the man who allegedly cursed her family, she meets Greta (a young actress) and a Japanese pilot who has crashed during the bombing. I loved Molly as a character, her energy and vulnerability was immediately endearing, and her contemplation and thoughts driven by poetry was really well written. Where this started falling short for me was when Darwin was bombed and Molly's quest commenced--I found some of the specific events in the plot and the way characters were written jarring, and didn't always makes sense for me as a reader. I appreciated the author note at the end of the text speaking to the motivations behind aspects of the story and research undertaken, but for me I really (as part of the early reviews and marketing around this) was seeking own voices reviews particularly in regard to the way the Japanese pilot and the Indigenous characters were written. (2.5 stars) review copy provided via NetGalley

  15. 4 out of 5

    DJ

    It took a little while for me to get into this one and I found the first half or so pretty slow. But it grew on me and I felt rather attached to the characters by the end. It had a lot of the same elements that made Boy Swallows Universe so special (completely different plot of course, but the same feelings of hope and positivity despite seemingly awful circumstances, and plucky, resilient characters) but it was just missing a bit BSU’s magic I think.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Trent Dalton became Australian writing royalty after one book! I did not read that book (Boy Swallows Universe) but understood there would be immense pressure to maintain a certain level of success second time round. I have just closed the final page on his new release, All Our Shimmering Skies and have to say, I think he has done it. With nothing to compare it to, I am critiquing what is before me and quite frankly, it is immense .... it is another breathtaking odyssey. ‘You ever wonder why thi Trent Dalton became Australian writing royalty after one book! I did not read that book (Boy Swallows Universe) but understood there would be immense pressure to maintain a certain level of success second time round. I have just closed the final page on his new release, All Our Shimmering Skies and have to say, I think he has done it. With nothing to compare it to, I am critiquing what is before me and quite frankly, it is immense .... it is another breathtaking odyssey. ‘You ever wonder why things are the way they are, Greta?’ she whispers. ‘What if this feller was supposed to be right here on this leaf in this very moment? What if he was put here to remind you and me about something.’ ‘Like what?’ Greta asks. ‘Like how pretty it all really is,’ Molly replies. ‘Who decided that gold would be worth so much, anyway? I’d take this feller over a gold pebble any day of the week.’ At face value this is the story of a young girl who is lost in its many variations. She digs graves with a shovel for a best friend. She talks to the sky. She runs aways from Darwin under assault from the Japanese and begins an epic journey deep into the Northern Territory in 1942 with Greta, a sassy actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese pilot. Yet .... this story is so much more .... so much more than that. Trent Dalton is an amazing writer. Suspend all you know, all you understand of what writing should look like and immerse yourself in how writing can be. From Aussie humour and slang, to the horrifying and confronting details with the impact in the bombing of Darwin - he does it all, he blends it altogether in one amazing read. This book is atmospheric in its detail of Australia’s desert landscape and his writing is pure poetry for the soul. It is lyrical as passage after passage just oozes with life. It is heartfelt, it is rich, it is heartbreaking and it is, simply stunning. ‘It means we must face the truth of who we are, Uncle Aubrey,’ she says. ‘Everything you have ever done and everything you will ever do ... you must own it. Because you are those things. You carry those things with you.’ What the reader must do is put aside what you think you know about writing and what you think you know about Trent’s writing. Take this fantastical journey with Molly, the little gravedigger girl as she embarks on a life changing journey into the great unknown. Full of melodrama and magical realism I promise it will be memorable - you will smile, you will laugh, you will shed a tear and as my first Trent Dalton read, I can say my heart has been truly touched by his poetic prose. ‘Because sadness is the truest emotion,’ Greta says. ‘Happiness isn’t to be trusted. It’s a bald-faced liar. But the truth of your sadness enriches every other thing inside you, especially your joy. You shouldn’t be afraid to go to the place that makes you sad, Molly Hook. The more you go to that dark place inside you, the lighter it gets. You go there enough times, you realise that dark place is actually your sacred place. That place is all of you and the tears you take from that place are just the darkness leaking out, precious drop by precious drop. You following me?’ This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Dawe

    Boy swallows universe is a hard act to follow !

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bad Goo

    Im the only bookseller from here to Darwin who has not read Boy Swallows Universe so I don’t know if his prose is always like this (I can’t decide if Mr Dalton is an amazing writer who had a little too much LSD when he wrote this or a mediocre writer who is trying too hard to find flowery or poetic descriptions for everything failing to understand the power of brevity) any way I assume BSU is better than this because it wasn’t great and could have been 200 pages shorter and don’t get me starter Im the only bookseller from here to Darwin who has not read Boy Swallows Universe so I don’t know if his prose is always like this (I can’t decide if Mr Dalton is an amazing writer who had a little too much LSD when he wrote this or a mediocre writer who is trying too hard to find flowery or poetic descriptions for everything failing to understand the power of brevity) any way I assume BSU is better than this because it wasn’t great and could have been 200 pages shorter and don’t get me starter on the more fantastical threads of the story...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cazg

    You’ve done it again Trent Dalton 💕💕 - I just closed this breathtaking book, sat back in my reclining camp chair on my deck with it’s view of the Nightcap Mountain Range to just soak up the absolute beauty of your lingering words and a Birdwing Butterfly graced me with it’s fleeting presence in our world. A true treasure indeed, as is every word you write. Thank you - I can’t wait for it’s publication date to share my customer’s delight.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    ALAS. I felt such shame for not revelling in this novel. What did I get wrong? I mean, of course it has to be ME, not HIM - rockstar author Trent Dalton, who swept us off our feet with Boy Swallows Universe. I mean, just look at the rave reviews on that exquisite cover..!? Was it the impossible height of my expectations after BSU? That despite the vivid and spectacular setting, this story takes place somewhere less familiar than our beloved Brisbane? Was it the autobiographical element, which ma ALAS. I felt such shame for not revelling in this novel. What did I get wrong? I mean, of course it has to be ME, not HIM - rockstar author Trent Dalton, who swept us off our feet with Boy Swallows Universe. I mean, just look at the rave reviews on that exquisite cover..!? Was it the impossible height of my expectations after BSU? That despite the vivid and spectacular setting, this story takes place somewhere less familiar than our beloved Brisbane? Was it the autobiographical element, which made his previous novel so alluring and breathtakingly real, that was lacking this time around? The nauseating saturation of AOSS cover selfies across ALL my feeds? Baffling. THEN I came across John Banks excellent review: https://bit.ly/33NTzZd in which he respectfully and articulately points out precisely what I found wrong and right with the book. Thank you John Banks whoever you are. I couldn't have put it better. And suddenly I don't feel so ungrateful, or alone. John also links to Bec Kavanagh's Guardian review, in which comments such as: "Boy Swallows Universe presents its fables as a sort of (sub)urban legend, where All Our Shimmering Skies lets them drift," resonate soundly. All that being said, I will still line up to read Trent's next book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellen McMahon

    No weights of gold to measure Only scales of truth and lies For we are living treasure Under all our shimmering skies Sadly I think this book is going to be heavily compared to Boy Swallows Universe, especially as it shares a lot of the same themes. And like BSU, there is a LOT going on in this one. The narrative takes many strange and twisted turns, culminating in a fitting (albeit tear-jerking) end. And, although it's not as perfect as his debut (will anything ever be?), I will never tire of Dal No weights of gold to measure Only scales of truth and lies For we are living treasure Under all our shimmering skies Sadly I think this book is going to be heavily compared to Boy Swallows Universe, especially as it shares a lot of the same themes. And like BSU, there is a LOT going on in this one. The narrative takes many strange and twisted turns, culminating in a fitting (albeit tear-jerking) end. And, although it's not as perfect as his debut (will anything ever be?), I will never tire of Dalton's lyrical, magical prose and his genuinely endearing characters (many of whom I would just like to gather into a big, warm embrace). If nothing else, it made me DESPERATE to visit the Top End. What a diverse, enchanting landscape, full of miraculous wonder. And how lucky I am to share this continent.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Magoo

    Fear not! If you thought nothing could top Dalton's first masterpiece 'Boy Swallows Universe', rest easy. 'All Our Shimmering Skies', dare I say it, exceeds his first foray into fiction. This is a novel about love; the love of daughters, mothers, friends, lovers, land, country, Darwin, magic, faith, hope and self. Hope leaps from every page even as the brutality of the harsh reality of the broken and bruised threatens to engulf our senses. It was wonderfully refreshing to read a novel with such Fear not! If you thought nothing could top Dalton's first masterpiece 'Boy Swallows Universe', rest easy. 'All Our Shimmering Skies', dare I say it, exceeds his first foray into fiction. This is a novel about love; the love of daughters, mothers, friends, lovers, land, country, Darwin, magic, faith, hope and self. Hope leaps from every page even as the brutality of the harsh reality of the broken and bruised threatens to engulf our senses. It was wonderfully refreshing to read a novel with such beautifully crafted female protagonists; so rich, so full, so imperfect, so honourable. Whilst not excusing the behaviour of our antagonist the brutal Aubrey and his brother Horace Hook, Dalton once again provides insight into the ways in which our upbringing has the potential to derail us all; yet he does not dwell on this but uses it as a catalyst for the exploration of the strength of the human spirit to always look to the skies and the gifts that life offers if we just look up. Dalton's writing is lyrical and transformative. The integration of historical elements and exploration of the beliefs, cultures and practices of both Indigenous Australians and the Japanese feels authentic, respectful and meticulously researched. Dalton masterfully integrates facts with fiction to create a world that layers magic with a realism so intense that you will be left awestruck, viscerally experiencing the times and places just as our hero Molly does. Readers lucky enough to have experienced the spiritual magic of this part of the world will be transported back to a time and place that is a heroic character in its own right, ethereal and affective. Unlike Molly, my cheeks shimmered as I journeyed with the 12 year old hero, gutsy Greta and Japanese fighter pilot Yukio as they embarked on their quest to unlock the curse of Longcoat Bob. This is a truly beautiful novel about the strength that lies within us all if we maintain hope and always look up to the skies with an open heart.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    To be honest, I spent most of my time while reading this book reminding myself not to compare it to Boy Swallows Universe. After loving Dalton’s debut as much as I did, I was a little trepidatious about this one, and I’m not sure I would have picked it up if it wasn’t Trent Dalton who wrote it. The scope and subject matter of this new novel is entirely different; where BSU was gritty and real, All Our Shimmering Skies was whimsical and allegorical. Dalton’s writing is as beautiful as ever here a To be honest, I spent most of my time while reading this book reminding myself not to compare it to Boy Swallows Universe. After loving Dalton’s debut as much as I did, I was a little trepidatious about this one, and I’m not sure I would have picked it up if it wasn’t Trent Dalton who wrote it. The scope and subject matter of this new novel is entirely different; where BSU was gritty and real, All Our Shimmering Skies was whimsical and allegorical. Dalton’s writing is as beautiful as ever here and If you like flowery prose and larger-than-life characters who find themselves on a quest of epic proportions, you will like this. Personally, I’ll always favour novels that feel a little more grounded in reality but I don’t think that was Dalton’s intention here. Regardless, I’ll be eagerly waiting to get my hands on whatever he writes next.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hamish Grable

    #allourshimmeringskies @trentdaltonauthor “Dig, Molly, Dig. Dig for your courage. Did for your strength. Dig for your truth” ... Molly Hook, the gravedigger girl, heart full of wonder, ‘eyes on the sky’, is introduced to the reader bonded to her mother through the wisdom of ‘sky gifts’, which provide courage, strength and truth ... Having been left to dig graves for a family owned business with her abusive father and uncle, Molly, with her history of walkabout, finds herself voyaging with the suppor #allourshimmeringskies @trentdaltonauthor “Dig, Molly, Dig. Dig for your courage. Did for your strength. Dig for your truth” ... Molly Hook, the gravedigger girl, heart full of wonder, ‘eyes on the sky’, is introduced to the reader bonded to her mother through the wisdom of ‘sky gifts’, which provide courage, strength and truth ... Having been left to dig graves for a family owned business with her abusive father and uncle, Molly, with her history of walkabout, finds herself voyaging with the support of gifts from the sky, to lift the curse of “Longcoat Bob”, the deep country sorcerer that has ‘stone hearted’ her family ... Molly as a character is so dear. She is optimistic and refreshingly energetic, despite her circumstances. She holds her trauma through her optimism so sensitively, as many young people do. Her vulnerability is exposed throughout, amongst her journey with actress Greta and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Heartbreakingly, her authentic innocence is heard when she exclaims “why couldn’t you just love me” ... The sky as a character resonates so wonderfully we me, as I recall myself sometimes looking up and conversing with whatever it is above. How come we don’t look down? The sky can provide hope, guidance and clarity as well as a connection to the past. It truly can provide ‘gifts’ .. Thank you Trent for this incredible piece of artistry. I genuinely appreciate the effort, thought and respectability considered in creating this novel. Certainly the language used is so glorious rich and poetic, painting the landscape of Australia so richly. I keep saying I can see your work performed through @melbournetheatrecompany, @sydneytheatrecompany or @malthousetheatre. I can’t wait for them to get their hands on this ... Have you #read this #book? What did you think?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachael McDiarmid

    I must say I enjoyed this more than Boy Swallows Universe, which I thought was overrated (sorry but that’s what I thought). This one was a journey, an adventure, literature and poetry. A bit of suspense and a bit of mystery, wrapped up in a quest as such. And we know how much I like one of those....

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I loved BSU when it came out, and so initially was expecting a similar style of book. When I started this one, it did take me a little while to relax into it but when I did, I couldn’t stop reading. The vivid descriptions are beautiful and it has an amazing sense of place. The characters initially seemed, well, bizarre to me but as I read, I saw this book as a modern Greek myth with weird and wonderful places and characters during Molly Hook’s odyssey across the Northern Territory. It was very c I loved BSU when it came out, and so initially was expecting a similar style of book. When I started this one, it did take me a little while to relax into it but when I did, I couldn’t stop reading. The vivid descriptions are beautiful and it has an amazing sense of place. The characters initially seemed, well, bizarre to me but as I read, I saw this book as a modern Greek myth with weird and wonderful places and characters during Molly Hook’s odyssey across the Northern Territory. It was very confronting in places, but also wondrous and emotional, leaving me in tears. Highly recommend!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan Austin

    Such a brilliant novel. Dalton is a master storyteller. He proved it with Boy Swallows Universe and he’s proven it again. Both books were so violent and grim that at times I questioned why I was reading them. But it is worth the perseverance. This would make a fantastic film, although Molly’s internal dialogue is an important part of the story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Pending

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bek MT

    Words that sing once again. Beautiful.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Addie

    I wanted to love this so much. Boy swallows universe was magical to me but this... just feels like is lacking something. The missing X factor. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I didn’t care about the grave digger girl, I didn’t care about the show girl, I couldn’t summon much care for any of them. The lyrical writing that flowed and danced on the pages of BSW feels contrived and forced here. I suspect everyone will say they loved it because it’s TRENT DALTON (no judgement- I wanted to mysel I wanted to love this so much. Boy swallows universe was magical to me but this... just feels like is lacking something. The missing X factor. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I didn’t care about the grave digger girl, I didn’t care about the show girl, I couldn’t summon much care for any of them. The lyrical writing that flowed and danced on the pages of BSW feels contrived and forced here. I suspect everyone will say they loved it because it’s TRENT DALTON (no judgement- I wanted to myself!) but I couldn’t.

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