An impressive 15 years in the writing, I'm told, this is the third novel from Ross and is set on the fictional archipelago of Popisho, where the islanders are born with cors (magical abilities). Xavier Redchoose is the macaenus, a chef with a special gift, who has a wedding feast to conjure for the governor's daughter. Meanwhile, Anise investigates her husband's infidelity and a wider cast of islanders go about their business. A masterful blend of magic realism, satire and sheer joy: every page has something new to enchant the reader.
Although many readers will relish the language, rich with badinage, wordplay and terms of friendly abuse that any Jamaican will instantly recognise and cherish, Ross’s editor should have pared back the over-seasoned dialogue: “‘Dandu, I don’t believe you! You have our macaenus standing in the yard like a puss’ — her voice rose to a shriek — ‘and you never tell me? Wait, macaenus! Oh my gods, wait!’” Elsewhere, Ross’s descriptions are rich with inventiveness, colour, flavour. Xavier cooks prawns, poached in lime shavings and thyme, coconut cake and tamarind bonbons, oranges doused in rum, which are set on fire, charred and bitter, soft grilled cloves of garlic.