Imagine that the oceans have covered most of the earth. Which type of person would you be: one tied to the land or one who lived on the water? Two women, divided by their choices, find themselves drawn together in the face of a storm and an uncertain future.
The first Callanish knew of the Circus Excalibur was the striped silk of their sails against the gray sky. They approached her tiny island in convoy: the main boat with its bobbing trail of canvas-covered coracles following like ducklings, chained in an obedient line. Ships arrived a dozen a day in the archipelagos, and Callanish knew that the circus folk would have to fight for their place on her island. Tomorrow the dock would be needed for a messenger boat, or a crime crew, or a medic. In a world that is almost entirely sea, placing your feet on land was a privilege that must be earned.—The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (Random House / Crown, 2015, p. 1)
- Setting: northern UK; the future
- Circumstances: Callanish, a gracekeeper, lives on the land, tending the dead and marking periods of mourning. North is a circus performer, who lives on the sea and tends her trained bear. The two women seem to be opposites in every respect--solid ground vs. the water; solitary vs. public--but when their paths intersect, they find unexpected commonalities.
- Characters: Callanish; North; other people in the circus; other gracekeepers; various other people in the women's lives
- Genre: speculative / dystopian; elements of Celtic and Gaelic folklore and myth
- Topics & themes: friendship, family, death, women's issues, secrets, romance, sexuality
- Miscellaneous: The story is told from multiple points of view, though Callanish and North have the most to say
- Reviews: Critical reviews have tended to be positive, most praising the mix of magical and dark and the exploration of gender, sexuality, and myth. Blogger reviews have run the full range, however, from meh to wonderful. I'll be my own judge.