Kirsty Logan is appearing in Dalmuir Library as part of West Dunbartonshire Libraries’s Festival of Words. Her novel The Gracekeepers is currently novel of the month. I usually have a crack at novel of the month, having been nominated myself, but also because my reading tends to be predictable and sometimes it’s good to shake it up and try something new. I wouldn’t usually have picked the The Gracekeepers and I certainly wouldn’t have finished it. There’s lots of good things in it, but just not my thing.
In a world much like ours, the reader gets a sense of sameness and difference in the opening paragraph.
The first Callanish knew of the Circus Excalibur was the striped silk of their sails against the grey sky. They approached her island in convoy: the main boat with its bobbing trail of canvas-covered coracles following like ducklings, chained in an obedient line.
The world is split between those that live on the land (landlockers) and those that live at sea (damplings). Seas have risen. We learn later that it has something to do with banker’s greed and land is rare as the charity landlockers give to damplings. Our world is torn.
‘Gracekeepers were given one cup, one plate, one bowl, one spoon. They were not expected to entertain visitors.’
Gracekeepers, as the name implies, give grace and bury the dead at sea. In a world made of damplings and landlockers, gracekeepers have a house, which the waves wash against. Callenish is a landlocker, but she has a secret, and her secret is the secret that drives North, who performs with her bear on The Circus Excalibur. Read on.