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An enchanting tale of love and migration

The Very Last Caracara of the World

Peter Verhelst

The Belgian Doctor Duval moved to a magnificent tropical island years ago. Together with the priest and the Madame from the coffee house, he involves himself in the destiny of Cassandra, the girl who stands constantly at the water­line. She looks out silently over the waves, or evokes all the winds of the island in an intoxicating litany.

The caracara is not only a rapacious falcon; on this island it is also a devastating wind. It heralds approaching doom.

Verhelst creates visual prose and will not readily be surpassed in that respect
De Standaard

Life on the island is abruptly disturbed when several whales and a number of women and girls who are unable to speak are washed ashore. In the commotion, a hidden past of occupation and repression comes to light: Cassandra is the daughter of Madame and a wanted rebel. When she was born, Duval’s father, a hard-hearted officer in the occupying army, pressurised Madame into giving up her baby. History repeats itself and old scores are settled. The current rulers avenge themselves and Madame, Cassandra and all the women mysteri­ously lose their lives.

An inconsolable Duval wants to leave the island, but is killed in a flying boat accident. All this takes place amidst the glorious light and intense scents and colours bursting from each page.

Magic: a compelling story, told with the subtlety of a young poet. ****