Behindcurtains, North and her bear waited. Their cue wouldn't come for a while yet. The air back here was still chilly, though the smell of sweat and soil was getting stronger. North never felt comfortable with her feet touching land. She didn't trust its steadiness, its refusal to move or change in the honest way of the sea. The landlockers hadn't given the circus much room on their island—it was small, north-west, not a capital—and behindcurtains was a narrow space.I picked up The Gracekeepers on a total whim, after the beautiful cover caught my eye. I hadn't heard of the book or the author before (although, as the world is such a tiny place, it turns out she's a friend of a friend), but it looked to be so perfectly my type of book, that I couldn't walk by and leave it behind.
The Gracekeepers tells the tale of a future world flooded by the sea (think Waterworld, but without Kevin Costner prancing around). Callanish is a gracekeeper, who lives alone with only tiny birds for company, looking after funerals for people who die at sea. North is a circus performer who lives with her bear, within a choatic floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers and horses. Their paths cross, their lives change, and you, the reader, are spell-bound by every step.
I absolutely raced through this book - I had to remind myself to take breaks, just so I could enjoy it for longer! The author has created a world that is heart-breaking and beautiful, and just feels so real - even in it's most fantastical moments, it feels genuine and true. It's part myth, part fairy tale, and a little bit apocalyptic, and it talks about love and identity and gender and loss, but never in a heavy-handed way. It just presents these honest, brilliant characters that are fighting to be true to themselves, and sweeps you along on the ride.
A brilliant, brilliant book. Read this if you're looking for something to lose yourself in.