By Kirsty Logan
North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life. Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another – and to the promise of a new life. But the waters are treacherous…Tweet
Callanish Sand is what is known as a gracekeeper: she performs sea burials from the shore of one of the few islands remaining now that most of the earth is under water. She is also a landlocker, born on the land and destined to live there. North is a performer on a travelling circus ship, the Excalibur, and she is also a dampling; born at sea and destined for a life on the waves. One day the Excalibur is forced to make a trip to Callanish’s island and that’s when the two women’s lives, so different yet somehow linked, cross for the first time.
The story is intriguing and unusual, with gorgeously descriptive prose that brings to life the world at sea with its ever-changing light and moods; the vivid, sometimes grotesque imagery of the circus and its performers with glitter for blood, and the lives of the privileged people still living on the islands that were left after the waters rose. If you like magic realism and works by writers such as Angela Carter, I thoroughly recommend 'The Gracekeepers'. If you’re not sure whether you like that style then I still recommend the book as it will certainly help you to decide. I’m willing to bet that by the end of it your answer will be yes.