Book Review: The Gracekeepers

review-cover-the gracekeepersTitle: The Gracekeepers

Author: Kirsty Logan

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult

Rating: 3 Stars




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 water 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 fairy tales, The Gracekeeprs 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.

It’s hard to sum up how I feel about The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. The world building was both interesting and familiar—very similar to the lore behind Waterworld (of which I am a huge fan). The settings were eerie, unkind, and terrifying in a way because they are so familiar and yet nightmarishly different than our own reality.

The prose of this book was beautiful, and the uncut ARC copy I received through a giveaway had only a few noticeable typos—most notably a lack of space between two words here and there throughout the book. The writing was pretty flawless. Unfortunately, the pace of the book was excruciatingly slow. It’s hard to put my finger on the reason why the book just didn’t speak to me. The narrative lacked an engaging quality. The sentences, while well-structured, didn’t flow well. It seemed as if every page took twice as long to read through as the books I normally delve into.

The characters felt detached—almost robotic. There were several instances in the book where Callanish and North could have, and should have displayed some emotion… but everything seemed to roll right off of them. It didn’t matter that people were dying, birds were being starved to death, or that one of the characters was selling her body. Because the characters were so detached, I found it hard to relate to them. The story lacked the engaging quality I usually look for in books that makes me want to keep reading and never put the story down. I repeatedly set this book aside, reading half a chapter at a time until It was over.

Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t bad. I liked the story—I’m just not entirely sure what the story was about. I got this brief peek into these two girls lives (as well as the various other characters), but not a lot happened. There wasn’t a lot of action, romance, or drama to pull the story along. A lot of the plot was backstory and the day to day interactions between the characters. It just didn’t pull me in.

Overall, I had to give this book three stars. It was “meh”. I’m glad I finished the book, but had I stopped halfway through, I don’t think I’d have missed anything. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either… just mildly interesting in a “I have nothing better to do than pick up this book” sort of way.