Gracekeepers keep their watery world

THE icecaps have melted and the Earth is mostly sea. Elitist "landlockers" occupy the few pieces of dirt left and look down on the boat-dwelling "damplings" who must wear bells when on land.

Callanish is a young woman living in guilt and shame as a gracekeeper (effectively a funeral director for damplings), trying to redeem a tragic error from her young past and to keep a dangerous secret about herself.

The other protagonist, North, performs with a bear in a floating circus, complete with larger-than-life ringmaster, his vindictive horse-queen wife, and a sexually ambivalent troupe of performers including a trio of clowns worthy of a Samuel Beckett play.

North has a secret too, and tragedy in her own background.

A storm and death bring the two young women together. They share their linked secrets and discover the bond between them.

Author Kirsty Logan's dreamy realism floats beside surreal imagery as she unravels the relationships between a collection of complex characters.

It's a strong first novel for Logan, a prize-winning Glaswegian short-story writer.

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