ARC Review: A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan

A Portable Shelter by Kirsty LoganAuthor:  A Portable Shelter
Genre: Short stories, fairy tales
Publisher: Association for Scottish Literary Studies
Publication Date: August 10, 2015
192 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. THANK YOU SO MUCH, KIRSTY!

We all know how much I loved Kirsty’s The Gracekeepers, so when she asked if I’d like to receive a review copy of A Portable Shelter, I jumped all over that. I read this entire collection in ONE day and pre-ordered a physical copy immediately.

Two women, Liska and Ruth, are awaiting the birth of their first child. They’ve agreed to only ever tell each other, and their baby, the truth, but while one is at work or the other is sleeping, they tell Coorie a series of stories in an attempt to pass on all the lesson they’ve learned. Coorie hears stories of bears and circuses and werewolves, witches and dragons and stars. What unfolds is a beautiful collection of fairy tales and truths wrapped up in stories.

Kirsty’s writing is unbelievably beautiful. Her words paint these gorgeous, sweeping pictures of a sky full of stars, palaces made of beach debris, wolves running through the woods, big circus tents, and lovely cottages on a Scottish beach. “The morning was my aching eyes and the mist not yet burned off the trees” (105). Liska and Ruth’s stories are haunting. Kirsty’s got this wonderful gift for magical realism, weaving together Scottish mythology and fairy tales.

The bottom line: I really just wanted this review to be: OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE KIRSTY AND THIS COLLECTION AND HER WRITING AND YOU SHOULD ALL READ EVERYTHING SHE WRITES. It took a lot to not say that but just know that’s what I wanted to say. I am continuously amazed by how talented Kirsty is and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

ARC Review: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty LoganAuthor:  Kirsty Logan

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

320 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Do you ever read a book that is just so beautiful you almost can’t describe it? That’s The Gracekeepers for me. I’ve been wanting to read this book for months, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest by it. How to put it into words though? Okay… Look at that cover. See how it’s both intriguing and a little strange? Calm and peaceful but somewhat disturbing? That’s this book. This book is all of those things and so much more.

I was sucked into this world of damplings (those who live on the sea) and landlockers (those who live on land) as soon as I started reading. Sometime in the future most of the land has vanished and a vast majority of people now live on water, travelling from island to island to trade or in the case of North, the main character, to perform as part of a travelling circus. The politics and dynamics of this world were fascinating and through North, the bear-girl, and Callanish, the gracekeeper, this world was brought to vivid life. Gracekeepers are those that perform a Resting ritual to lay damplings who have past to rest in the ocean. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful and haunting the descriptions of those Restings were.

I just loved this story. Kirsty’s prose is gorgeous and lyrical and I could barely put the book down because I was so enchanted by it. Her world building is fantastic. I had a few hiccups with understanding what had happened to the world as there’s no real explanation for why the world is mostly water. Also, you guys might know how much I love Scotland, and The Gracekeepers weaves in some Scottish folklore and mythology which I adored.

All of the characters were so well done that even the ones I hated, I loved. I thought it was smart that the POVs rotated throughout the book; we didn’t just get North and Callanish’s POV, but also the clowns, the ringmaster, an acrobat, and several others. None of them felt like I was reading the same character. Each was distinct and well-done (my favorite might’ve been the clowns for their description of the ringmaster’s wife as a “horse-bitch”). My only complaint here is that I wanted more time with each of the characters, especially Callanish, to learn more about them.

The bottom line: The Gracekeepers is a magical book. It will enchant you from its first page. It felt like a fairy tale of sorts, and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 8 – Freaking fantastic

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty LoganPublisher: Crown Publishing

Author: Kirsty Logan

Release date: May 19, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction.

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 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.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers 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.

Why I’m excited: I know Kirsty, but that’s not why I’m excited. “Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales” – you guys know how much I love Scotland. A circus. A name like Callanish. Loneliness, isolation, joy, and hope. I can’t even tell you how much I want to read this one. It sounds really wonderful, and I am definitely looking forward to reading The Gracekeepers. Plus, look at that beautiful cover. Can I just have it now, please and thank you?