This novel is set in a post-apocalyptic universe where almost the entire world is covered in ocean; the land has been reduced to a few small, isolated groups of islands. In this world, people are divided into “landlockers” and “damplings,” with the landlockers generally being richer and more powerful — though no one is truly rich anymore. But Callanish Sand has a unique status: though she lives on her own tiny island, she is a gracekeeper, one who performs the necessary burial rituals for damplings who have died. Her life is a solitary one, a self-imposed punishment for a mistake she made long ago — until she meets North, a dampling circus performer whose act involves dancing with a semi-trained bear. Both Callanish and North are lonely individuals trying to escape their unwanted destinies; but only when their lives collide do they dare to imagine a different life.
I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this book, and I think it’s because I was expecting a different kind of story. The back cover doesn’t reveal North’s gender, so I was assuming that the character was male and that there would be a romance with Callanish. But in fact, North is a woman, and her relationship with Callanish is somewhat ambiguous (possibly romantic, but not necessarily). I also assumed that the characters would interact far more than they actually do in the book. While there is some overlap, most of their stories take place in their own separate worlds. Personally, I found North’s story much more interesting, and I was fascinated by the description of the floating circus and its various performers. Callanish’s story is more subdued, and the stakes seem lower. Also, something about the writing style kept me a distance, so I didn’t feel very invested in the plot or characters. Overall, I think this book would appeal to people who love settings and strong world-building, but it didn’t do anything special for me.
Win This Book!
If you’d like to win an ARC of this book, simply comment on this post by midnight on February 6, 2015 (EST). The giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry, international folks!). A winner will be chosen randomly, and results will be announced sometime on February 7. I’ll also try to contact the winner personally, but that only works if I can find contact info for you somewhere. 🙂 Good luck!