All Our Shimmering Skies

Harper: HarperCollins. Jul. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9780063092754. $26.99; pap. ISBN 9780063075610. $16.99. F
In a harsh and magical novel set in Darwin, Australia, at the start of World War II, Molly, a gravedigger’s daughter, has inherited her mother’s dreamy disposition. Her mother died when Molly was seven, leaving her to fend for herself in a 20th-century Dickensian environment, cared for by her brutal, heavily drinking father Horace, and often her equally drunken and brutal uncle Aubrey. The family is also reputed to have been cursed by Longcoat Bob, an Aboriginal shaman whose gold was possibly stolen by her prospector grandfather. Molly’s only escapes are her imagination and the poetry books in her late mother’s library. After the Japanese bomb Darwin, killing Horace, Molly sets off to find Longcoat Bob to ask him to remove the alleged curse. She’s joined by Greta, a German actress and sometimes exotic dancer, and eventually by Yukio, a gentle-spirited Japanese pilot who crashes his plane rather than continue to kill. As they venture ever deeper into the outback, their journey takes on mythic proportions.
VERDICT In this follow-up to Dalton’s LJ best-booked debut, Boy Swallows Universe, goodness, hope, and a bit of magic are pitted against gritty realities. The result is unquestionably appealing, though somewhat diminished by a number of characters who seem like period movie clichés.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing