And those details certainly are vivid. We meet Xavier on the first anniversary of the death of his wife, Nya, one of those unhappy souls who “died alone, without proper burial rites, [so] the carcass wandered for years, rudderless, rotting and shrinking.” The warning signs of the “sweet hurricane” that provides the novel’s apocalyptic finale are sensed by the “indigent” who make up Popisho’s outcast lower class: “The earth vex . . . the soil stank of ancient warning.” In between those events, we learn that Popisho’s inhabitants eat butterflies, which have the same effect as alcohol, but “it took practice to pluck them from the sky and eat them alive. If you didn’t know how, you found yourself coughing dust, a puzzled creature beating wings in your throat, scales sticking to your teeth.” Even when you’re not quite sure exactly what’s going on, Ross’s imagery makes a visceral impact.