In THE GRACEKEEPERS, Callanish and North live in a flooded world, one is a circus traveler, the other one lives on land.
What intrigued me: Honestly, I was just hoping for a nice Magical Realism story.
High Fantasy in disguise
THE GRACEKEEPERS truly sounds like a magical story if you've read the blurb and the writing definitely supports this. It reads like a fever dream, strange, yet very comforting. However, that kind of writing isn't for everyone. Paired with the multiple POVs, THE GRACEKEEPERS simply used two things that I personally don't like, as well executed as they may be. Especially the multiple POVs are lacking here because it very easily makes it difficult to get truly immersed in the world.
Because the two protagonists North and Callanish lead dramatically different lives and have numerous side kicks that you have to keep up with, I easily lost interest and motivation to read this novel. Hence my reading experience felt forced, dragged out, and not really pleasant. This is by no means a bad novel, merely the beginning is lacking. The world could be super interesting, I've only ever encountered a flooded world in CURRENTS before and quite enjoyed the concept. I would've liked GRACEKEEPERS to explain more, to show me more world building. I assume the novel is trying to be Magical Realism, but honestly, it's just High Fantasy. Just throw in world building, please, this concept doesn't work for this story.
Severely lacks world building
The world building or lack thereof generally is what makes this novel not succeed in my opinion. I would've loved to see strong concepts from the first second on. There's a circus on a raft in a flooded world! This is epic! This is a great idea! Why are there so few descriptions?
Basically we get the facts like reading a bullet point journal but NONE of the atmosphere. The writing itself absolutely cannot convey the atmosphere, it won't hurt to add a couple of descriptive scenes, would it? In a novel like this that's about two characters with vastly different lives, you can't just omit society and culture. There is almost nothing of that in this. Sometimes it feels like your average medieval-inspired fantasy book, sometimes it feels like something out of a Guillermo del Toro movie. THE GRACEKEEPERS lures with a great premise, but honestly can't deliver and immerse in the world.
Overall: Do I Recommend?I don't think it's worth the trouble. I really wanted to like THE GRACEKEEPERS, but I do think even two stars is very generous, mostly for the idea. I didn't enjoy the story much and I think there are better similar books out there. THE NIGHT CIRCUS, PANTOMIME etc.
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
"A flooded world.
A floating circus.
Two women in search of a home.
North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life.
Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. As penance for a terrible mistake, she has become a gracekeeper.
A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another - and to the promise of a new life.
But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them."(Source: Goodreads)