Book review: The Gracekeepers

My friend Rhys lent me this book. It was Rhys that told me about it in the first place. The author, Kirsty Logan, is something of a local favourite, being a Glasgow resident and having previously published two anthologies of short stories, neither of which I’ve read (yet) but she also teaches creative writing courses, which is why Rhys knew of her. Rhys will also be a famous author one day – I’m so lucky to know so many creative people. Anyway, I’d filed it away in my head as one of those “want to read asap” books so when I was in between novels and Rhys offered to loan me his copy I was glad to accept.


The Gracekeepers by Kirty Logan


Oh, my word this might be the best book I’ve read this year. There’s a lot of strong contenders for that particular superlative but this was a really good read. Its got that blend of almost sci-fi with folk law and legend that’s just perfect for building a world. This world in particular is almost entirely covered in ocean, with drowned cities beneath and only a few small islands remaining. There’s some vague suggestion that it might be the result of a huge global warming event that occurred some generations ago although that’s far from clear.

People who can afford to live on the small scraps of land, “land lockers” enjoy slightly superior status above those who have resorted to living on boats, “damplings.” However, life is a struggle for everyone. None less so than for a woman, North, who lives on a circus boat with her dancing bear. None less so than for another woman, Callanish, who lives on a tiny island in the doldrums, condemned to a life as a “Gracekeeper” and “resting” those who died at sea.

It’s tense and soulful and oh, so compelling and, while I normally shy away from series of books these days, if a sequel about North and Callanish were ever released I’d be first in line to buy a copy. There’s no hint that such a book will ever be written so I’ll just have to go back and read Logan’s short stories instead.

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