Date Published: 19th May 2015
As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending 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 watery 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.
This book is told in the third person and follows the perspectives of Callanish and North. On some occasions other characters perspectives are used to gain a greater perspective. The prose in this novel is lyrical in nature and flows so smoothly. It was a pleasure to read. The descriptions in this book are stunning; I could see the rust on the old, rundown boat that served as both home and circus to a very diverse crew.
There is some major character development in this book. A lot of back story is slowly revealed to the reader as the overall motives of each of the wide array of vastly different characters are examined. I believed Callanish showed the most development through her travels and developing a connection with another human being.
Prejudice: In this novel where there is Landlockers and Damplings there is a lot of prejudice displayed about both populations and their way of life.
Home: The idea of home, whether it be a house on land, a boat or just belonging is another element that is examined within this novel. Each of the characters have different idea of what home is and what it means to belong.
Family: In this world, family is rare and it is a dirty, gritty reality. In a world like this family can come in many forms, whether it’s the Hodge podge cast of the Excalibur circus or the promise of a new life to come.
Overall, the most spectacular part of this book was the prose, it was lyrical and magical. The prose is what sold me from the beginning, at times the plot could drag out but I was always hooked by the beautiful writing.
Keep Calm and Read On,