By Kirsty Logan
Narrated By: Katy Townsend
Publisher: Random House Audio
Unabridged: 11 hr 20 min
As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying 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.
Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.
Callanish is a Gracekeeper, charged with seeing that those who have passed are given to their final place of rest in the ocean. She resides on an isolated island resigning her lonely life to a form of punishment for a mistake once made in her past. North travels by ship with the circus Excalibur working to sustain a living and living with her own burdens. When fate entwines the path of these to women, it will soon shed a new light on their opposing worlds and events past.
There are a few elements that when utilized properly can create a genuinely unique and rewarding story. The Gracekeepers catches two of these brilliantly in its superb delivery of magical realism and a floating circus. My love for this story actually makes it rather difficult to place my experience into words. This is the type of tale that requires savoring and personal exploration. It is as complex as comfortable. I will not attempt to dissect the plot-line for this review, but instead briefly summarize my own feelings.
While sporting a more limited ensemble of characters, they are not without heart. I found Callanish and North to be of great interest and quite honestly, endearing. Though I will admit that their growth felt slow at times, and I found myself drawn more to the world Logan has created. Divided between the land and ship dwelling inhabitants, the damplings and landlockers create an enchanting and atmospheric read that blends fairytale and folklore beautifully. For all of the sorrow and loneliness presented, there is something of great delight to be discovered within The Gracekeepers that will be an individualized experience ranging from fascination to borderline confusion at times.
Logan’s writing is immersive and with a poetic prose, promising a unique and magical encounter. Accompanied with Katy Townsend’s smooth narration, each alternating perspective transitions seamlessly. Finding a permanent home in my bookish heart, The Gracekeepers offers something rare and unusual for fans of magical realism and folklore alike.
Enjoyed with a nice cup of lavender tea with a hint of vanilla.