The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Crown
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss
As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.
In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives–offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.
This was a very strange book. It was I think a future on Earth in which water has taken over most of the world. We have the damplings who live on boats vs. the landlockers who live on what islands are left or what they can build out from those islands. North dances with her bear on a circus boat and Callanish is a Gracekeeper. If this had been a story just about the Gracekeepers I might have been into it. The Gracekeepers perform ritualistic burials at sea for the damplings – this was still odd but kind of beautiful. I think more worldbuilding in the beginning might have set me up to enjoy this book more. I felt like I was just dumped onto a boat without enough perspective.
North was born to circus life, while Callanish chose to leave her island and live in a hut at the equator to perform restings. What exactly brought Callanish to this decision was never totally laid out which frustrated me. North’s path seems fraught with danger and I read with a feeling of dread throughout. Oddly enough that’s what kept me reading, but that really didn’t pay off for me. I knew something terrible would happen, I just thought something amazing could still come from it. The writing was beautiful at times, but this book was just not for me. All around I just would have liked more – what was given of each character’s story could have had so much more depth and too many questions were left unanswered.
The sea was an endless battlefield, and the deeper you went the worse it got, because everything that died had nowhere to go but down. In its darkest depths, the sea was nothing but an endless rain of bone, teeth, scales and flesh.
Thank you Crown and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
All quotes taken from an unfinished copy in advance of publication.