Adult Fiction · Book Review · Fantasy/Magical Realism

The Gracekeepers

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As I said in my last post, I haven’t been enjoying reading very much lately. My cure for a reading slump is to pick a book that I think I will really like. I usually put off reading a few books that I suspect will be favorites for just that reason. Enter The Gracekeepers.

In this sort-of alternate Earth, the world has flooded. Land is scarce, expensive, and sacred. There is a social divide between people who live on land, “landlockers,” and those who live on boats, called “damplings.” North is a dampling. She lives and works on a circus boat with her beloved performing bear. Callanish is a Gracekeeper, or someone who lives on alone on an island and performs dampling sea burials. Their paths cross unexpectedly, and they find that they have something very special in common.

What initially attracted me to this book was the setting. I wanted to know more about this flooded planet, the people who lived there, and the customs that they developed from living in a flooded world. The world building is still the best part of the book, in my opinion. After reading the novel, I felt like the author only scratched the surface of the world she created. (And, luckily, I think she has a new book coming out next year that takes place in the same world.) I want to know more about the history of this world, why it is flooded, the mythology behind the ceremonies and traditions, and I really want to know what happens next as the ending of The Gracekeepers hints that this society might be changing.

Now that I have raved about the setting, I don’t have too much else to say. The characters were fine. Some of their histories and their motivations for certain actions were a little underdeveloped. Sometimes I was not quite on board with their decision making, or their choices did not have much depth/make sense. I was mostly accepting of this, however. The novel had a storybook-like feeling. It felt a little like a fairy tale where the reader is kept at a small distance from the characters. This fit with the feel and theme of the book, so it wasn’t too troubling. I just felt like there was a lot of details I wanted to know about the characters and the setting, but the author cheekily withheld them.

If it sounds like something you might like, don’t let the 3.6 star average on Goodreads scare you away. I am just hoping that the author’s next book will be a little more generous with this world’s secrets.

 

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