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Review - Luna and The Gracekeepers

Review - Luna, Ian MacDonald and The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan

As ever, my reading is eclectic - as are my reviews, some on Amazon and
Goodreads, some, the more detailed and personal, here - and I don't think I could have decided to put two more diverse books in one review.

To Luna, first. A vast family epic, set on a newly-colonised moon. A huge array of characters and loyalties, so vast that at first the sheer number of names and allegiances threatened to stop me reading. This, though, is a personal reaction - I struggle with long character casts. In fact, if I can get past it, anyone can.

As the story settles down, it is the Corta family we come to focus on. Proud, unscrupulous and multi dimensional, their position in the lunar hierarchy is threatened by the other ruling families, in particular the chilling, and stark, Mackenzies (who repay three times.) A full range of character attributes is shown, with fun and interesting tech and lots to challenge our perceptions of sf worlds.

Deftly pulling us into the family dynamics, whilst still allowing individual characters to be drawn out, Luna is pacy and pulls to its shocking climax inexorably. When the end does come, it leaves enough questions for the reader to want the next book out as soon as possible.

Where Luna didn't quite hit it for me was in the field of the wider picture. Only two of the dynasties are fully fleshed out, with two in particular not known to the reader. To expand further would, however, have made the book even wider in scope with more characters. Nonetheless without knowledge of them, I struggled to fully grasp the politics in place and, crucially, felt that to unravel the ending was difficult given the limited knowledge.

That, though, is a tiny gripe in an otherwise excellent book, and one I'd recommend to others.

The Gracekeepers, then, is a debut book by Kirsty Logan, and a very nice debut it is. I stumbled across it in the library, location of books I take a gamble on and was intrigued by a world where the sea has encroached on the land, with a floating circus inhabiting that world.

With shades of Life of Pi in the set up of a girl (North) on a boat with a wild animal - in this case, a bear - it developed its own path quickly. In contrast, Callanish, lives alone, tending bodies given to the sea for burial and hiding her own secrets in solitude.

Lovely writing, memorable characters and a nice set up, I enjoyed The Gracekeepers very much. I felt it got bogged down at one point, and an injection of pace would have been nice, but the end delivered well and satisfied with only one real loose end for me.

It doesn't feel like a world that will be returned to (although I might, of course, be wrong) but that's fine - sometimes we just want the briefest snapshot of somewhere to frame our memories of it. The Gracekeepers is a book that will stay with me for some time, and Logan a writer to keep an eye on.