…The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan
This was the third book I managed to polish off on my honeymoon and it was just as delicious as this sentence implies.
This was also recommended to me at my Book Spa experience, I said to them that I liked anything a bit magical, anything to do with the sea and any book that has stars on the cover and this was the book they produced; a little bit magical, set actually on the sea (in a world where the sea levels have risen so much that very little land actually remains) and has stars on the cover. Honestly, the staff of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights = legends.
Initially the chapters of the story are more or less evenly split by the two main characters North and Callanish and as the tension of the narrative builds Logan introduces chapters for other characters and this really helps set an exciting pace for the book. Sometimes turning the page and finding that the chapter is Flitch’s voice rather than North’s (just for example) can be disappointing but this just means that the book is a real page turner. I found that I was desperate to find out what would happen next, the characterised chapters just built upon that excitement.
Also the fundamental idea that the book is based around is really interesting and prevalent. It’s basically a utopian future where the people of the world have plundered its resources so severely that water levels have risen dramatically, resulting in land being extremly scarce and the world’s population being split into “Landlings” (those who live on the land) and “Damplings” (those who live on the sea – it’s a does what it says on the tin situation). This means that a set currency is no longer used, people trade what they have or use lumps of quartz or metal to buy food, paper is also a hugely valuable commodity because of the lack of trees in the world and levels of disdain between the two types of citizen are high. I found this really interesting because in our real world of rising water levels and lessening resources it didn’t take that much imagination to bring the world of North and Callanish to life.
The two main characters are very likeable and incredibly interesting and multi-faceted humans striving for survival in difficult circumstances. North is a young woman working in a circus as a bear dancer (she looks after her own bear which is pretty cool all by itself) who has a dark secret. Callanish is a “Gracekeeper”, it’s her job to put dead Damplings to rest in watery graves, she also has a dark secret, which is inexplicably related to whatever North is hiding. Ooh.
I’m sure many people will have pointed this out in other reviews of this book but if you liked/loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern you’ll like/love The Gracekeepers. It’s heartfelt, magical, evocative, dark yet hopeful, at times I felt like Logan had reached into my head and extracted bits and pieces from my own imagination (I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant in any way, what I mean to say is that this book is everything I really could ever want in a story). Although this did cause a little problem so if I had to have one criticism it would be that although the story is wonderfully thought-out and the book’s structure is particularly successful, there were places where I thought the quality of the writing wasn’t quite as beautiful as the world it was describing. I don’t know if that makes any sense but I think it’s entirely subjective because the story was so perfect for me I think at times I was a little too close to its narrative.
All in all, read it, preferably in view of the sea if not in fact on a boat.