“I really don’t want you to be an ordinary man.” With such a singular instruction from his eccentric mother and the novelty of being plucked from boarding school to run wild and untutored on the island of Zanzibar, the author’s boyhood notions of conforming were swept away by the ravishing Land of Zinj. But through this idyll of his youth runs a darker thread and the volatile adolescent’s inner turmoil is echoed in the disintegration of his island paradise through revolution and betrayal. 

 Without the least hint of sentiment, nostalgia or regret, Painted Devils is a lyrical and moving homage to both love and place, tempered by a wise man’s wit and wry acceptance that all our gods are fallible and love, like ‘Sinbad’s golden thread’, is fragile.

Marguerite Poland  |  Author of Shades