Published: 23 April 2015
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Page Count: 293
In a future where much of the land has been overtaken by the sea, North (a dampling–one who lives at sea) performs in the Circus Excalibur with her bear for the landlockers (those who live on land). Meanwhile, Callanish lives alone in the middle of her graceyard, where she administers the final Resting to those who have died at sea. A chance event brings these two women together, and they teach each other how to forgive the past and move forward into a hopeful future.
I loved this book. I was pretty certain I would when I started it, especially because it’s been going around that if you like The Night Circus and Station Eleven, you’d like this book. Seeing as how those are two of my favourite novels, I felt pretty comfortable with the fact that I’d add this to my favourites list. And, I have. It’s a beautifully written book with an amazing representation of these two women. It’s a novel about human connection, and love, and relationships set in the backdrop of the circus and the graceyard–one of my favourite images from the book is Callanish in her home surrounded by these empty birdcages from the Restings. It’s lonely and it’s beautiful. I need a painting of it to hang on my wall.
Logan writes not only beautifully, but in an extremely well crafted manner. It’s easy to see that she’s taken her time with this story, and that every word and image is there for a reason. She described the circus, its inhabitants, and the world just wonderfully. While I wish I could have more of this world and its characters, I think the length its at is perfect. I can only think of maybe extending the end a little. The last twenty or so pages felt a little rushed.
Callanish and North are two of my new favourite literary characters. I loved Callanish’s graceful way of describing her past and the world around her. I may have enjoyed her sections a little more than North’s, but they’re both wonderful narrators and it’s a pleasure to read from their perspectives. And I liked that she included some perspectives from other characters in the circus.
What’s also great about the writing is that Logan uses a lot of mythological references in her works, particularly Scottish, which I enjoyed in The Gracekeepers. As may have been evident in my Fudoki review, I love books with magical elements and mythological images/figures in them. They make the story so rich and complex–if done well. And it’s certainly done well in this book. I obviously don’t want to go into what those references/images are, because I feel like it might spoil some bits of the book, but they’re fantastic!
As I said before, it’s a novel about love and what it means to be human. It’s a novel about connections between people. It’s a novel about loneliness and pain. But, most of all, it’s a novel about hope. I highly, highly recommend it if you haven’t read it and it sounds like something you would like. It’s a cozy read for an afternoon inside with a cup (or two) of coffee and tea. It’s stunning, and I cannot wait to read more of Logan’s work. I gave The Gracekeepers five stars.
Until next time, happy reading!