Genre: Fantasy Literary
Publisher: Crown (US) and Harvill Secker (UK)
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan is a magical debut novel set in a distant future of our world where most of the land is flooded, save for a few small islands dotted throughout the ocean. The world is split between two people; landlockers, who live on these islands and the damplings who live on the sea in boats. This story follows two young girls North and Callinish and what happens when their paths cross. North is a circus performer with her bear aboard the Excalibur, a circus boat that travels around the islands to perform for the landlockers. Callinish is a gracekeeper and performs Restings for people who die at sea.
One of the most striking things about this book is the writing. Logan’s style is very lyrical and poetic, pulling you right in and creating this misty and damp atmosphere that reflects the setting of the book perfectly. The world she created was rich in detail and inspired by Scottish mythology that made it feel almost like a fairy-tale at points. This book is mostly told from Callinish and North’s perspective in the third person but we also get chapters from other secondary characters that add valuable and intricate layers we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Callinish and North were both interesting and complex. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Callinish’s perspectives at first but her character arc was executed beautifully and she really came into her own as the novel progressed. The antagonists of this story are not two dimensional villains at all, and are just merely people with their own motivations that were fascinating to read about.
The world-building in this book was done very well with little to no info-dumping. This did leave me confused at some points, but I don’t know if that is the novel’s fault or my own for needing things spelled out to me. This plot of this book moves slowly and methodically which I enjoyed and thought worked well for the book, but I would say that if you prefer lots of action and a fast paced plot then you may not enjoy this as much.
Overall I thought this book was excellent and is definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far. I will definitely be picking up more of Logan’s work in the future and can’t wait to see what she produces. If you enjoy beautiful writing, magical worlds and complex characters than I would highly recommend you pick this up.