The Gracekeepers

In Kirsty Logan's The Gracekeepers, water covers most of the planet's surface and land is a precious and limited resource. In this world, the Circus Excalibur is a flotilla of ships, home to a ragged group of performers. As the vessels approach a small island, Logan builds the mythology of this watery world, where there are two kinds of people: damplings, who live in boats on the water, and landlockers, who live on solid ground.

In order to make a living, the circus travels from one island to another in hopes of performing for the landlockers. Among these performers is a young woman named North, who has lived aboard the Circus Excalibur all her life, and earns her keep by performing with her bear. North harbors a secret that would threaten her livelihood if anyone in the circus finds out, but she can't envision an alternative to the circus life until she meets Callanish--a gracekeeper, or undertaker.

Callanish lives alone in a tiny, isolated house. She, too, harbors a secret, and would be in great danger if other landlockers knew of her webbed feet and hands. Here she is safe, but her desire to see her mother draws her from her self-imposed exile, a risk she is willing to take to make peace with the life she left behind.

Although the two main protagonists are North and Callanish, Logan writes her first novel in many alternating points of view, providing depth and complexity. The Gracekeepers feels like a fairy tale, with a mythos that, with our planet's water levels rising, readers may find particularly poignant. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

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