Quietly magical but too subdued in parts. 3.5 stars.
As a work of fantasy this is beautiful, Kirsty Logan creates a world spilt into two clans: Damplings who live and work on the sea and Landlockers who are fiercely protective of the small patches of earth they own. The Gracekeepers follows the lives and troubles of North; a Dampling circus performer – a ‘bear girl’ who is to be wed by the ringmaster’s son Anisel and a gracekeeper who lays those killed by the sea to rest called Callanish. Both women have secrets and that is what will eventually bring them closer together. It’s a story that draws on rivalry, rumours, death and motherhood and is worth reading just for how beautifully told it is. However the actual plot does have some niggly aspects that make it feel unfinished which is a shame.
The subtle affinities between North and Callanish is beautiful. You really feel for both women and the loss they have experienced because of their estranged families and the demands of the weight of their secrets.
The locations, outfits, makeup; all the visual aspects of this novel, are breathtaking – you can’t help imagine the Excalibur sailing pass you as you read it.
This is one of those books that starts off booming; tragedy is splashed across the first chapter with North’s parents being mauled by their performing bear. What annoyed me was that this, the most upsetting element of the plot for me, is never discussed by North. She never talks about missing her parents or laments their death – it’s a missed opportunity that really irks me.
The wondrous descriptions can drag down the pace of the book and this one took me a while to get through as a result and stopped me developing a sustained fondness for all the characters.
The Gracekeepers was a real marmite read for me; I started off engrossed in it, and loved how it was written but it did feel a bit unfinished in terms of character development and pace. What did you guys think?