Review: The Gloaming – Kirsty Logan

015 - The Gloaming

015 - The Gloaming

Rating – 5*

I am so, so excited that I was able to receive an ARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The Gloaming will be published by Harvill Secker on April 19th – and I’m going to urge anyone reading this to pick it up because it is gorgeous. Much like with all Kirsty’s previous books it focuses on Scottish folklore and queer themes – lesbian mermaids. Need I say any more? But it has been one of my most anticipated books of 2018, it didn’t let me down, it didn’t suffer with Second Novel Syndrome – if anything I may love this just a little bit more than The Gracekeepers.

I had very high hopes for this book ever since I saw Kirsty talking about it on Twitter and it didn’t disappoint. It focuses around the Scottish myth of Selkies and deals with it in a much more tasteful way than my last encounter with a book which revolved around the myth. I’ve loved everything about it, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting it was still absolutely gorgeous.

The book follows the story of Mara Ross and her family. They live on a small, unnamed island off the coast of Scotland and it’s a magical, but dark place. Her family are haunted by many things, in a house that’s not quite right on an island which just seems to be filled with ghosts. It felt a lot more grown up, a lot more rounded than her previous novel – the characters were more real and the relationships between them also felt very believable. The relationships between parents and children, sisters, lovers; all of them felt real.

Something else I loved about this book is the nod to her short stories. I loved how she wove things like The Rental Heart in to this so seamlessly, and how that in this slightly fantastical reality it was believable. It also made me want to go back and reread her entire back catalogue – so keep an eye out for reviews of me rereading her books!

Honestly, I cannot praise this book enough. It was absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy in April. If you have a chance to get your hands on this, do, and let it wash over you because it’s beautiful. I read it in one sitting, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and come the end I wanted to read it all over again. I feel so lucky that I was able to read this 2 months before release, and it’s genuinely one of the books I have been most excited for this year. I can’t wait to share it with my friends.

Review: A Portable Shelter – Kirsty Logan

PortableShelterSo I read The Gracekeepers, I also read The Rental Heart; both of them got 4* from me so it was given that I was going to pre-order this because Kirsty is just fabulous, her writing is beautiful and I just needed this in my life. However, I didn’t expect this to be quite as wonderful as it was. I went in with trepidation, I had such a good feeling about this collection that I just didn’t want to be disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed – how could I have been, this is just beautiful – and it’s my favourite short story collection of the year – without doubt.

This is a collection of short stories told within a novella. So it’s a bit inception-y in that there is stories within a story. Ruth and Liska are having a baby, they have promised to only tell the truth to their child but both want to tell their unborn child fairytales and things they have learnt from them. So Ruth tells stories to her unborn child when Liska is at work and Liska tells them to the child inside Ruth when Ruth is asleep, so neither get caught breaking their promise.

How this series of stories was told was inspired. The fact that it’s stories within a story, that between each fairy tale we get an introduction from either Ruth or Liska to the story directed at the unborn child is just such an interesting way to approach a series of short stories.

This collection was a 5/5 for me – even though it is full of fantastical tales of witches and werewolves and fairies it was really relatable. The messages that Ruth and Liska were telling their unborn child through these tales hit me. I was so emotionally invested in some of these stories, the emotions were raw (the last story made me cry, it was about grief and really just hit me in the gut after losing my grandmother at Christmas. Reading that last paragraph of the book I couldn’t see straight.)

This is an incredible collection and I really, really recommend it. The hardcover was a limited run of 1000 from an independent publisher in Scotland but I think Amazon still have a few copies left. If not, Vintage will be publishing the paperback next year. Seriously, try and get your hands on this because it’s the best of Kirsty’s work that I have read and the best short story collection in a long time, if not ever. This woman is a marvel and I really can’t wait to find out what she’s writing next because I already feel bereft!

Review: The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales – Kirsty Logan

9781907773754frcvr.inddAfter reading The Gracekeepers not so long ago, I fell in love with Kirsty’s writing. It was a couple of people, but mainly Christie who encouraged me to actually buy this. I’m so glad I read it. I had mixed feelings about The Gracekeepers, her writing was beautiful but this – these – are fabulous.

The titular story, The Rental Heart, featured first and I just devoured it. It was a great start to the book; there were so many great things in it – a bit of the sci-fi, fluidity of sexuality, a great character and ultimately, beautiful prose. It’s set in a world wherein you just rent a heart, when you go through a breakup you just get  your deposit back and get a new one. This story made me very excited to read the rest of the book so… on I went!

I always feel I should avoid doing a point-by-point breakdown of books like this, because I feel it ruins the surprise. All I will say is on the whole this was fantastic. The book contains a total of 20 stories, covering a variety of themes. Throughout the book she you move backwards and forwards in time, playing with sexuality, fairy stories, myths and folklore. Everything is told with this beautiful, sometimes flowery, prose and offset with a sudden burst of straightforwardness. Something I appreciated a lot is while there is a focus on same-sex relationships it isn’t the focus of the story, the point is it’s love and the emotions are the same whether the two people involved are of the same or opposite genders – I loved that. There are also stories of varying lengths, some are quite lengthy while others are more flash-fiction, which I really appreciated. It was a collection I had to keep putting down between stories because I just wanted to think about what I had just read.

Reading this, I really cannot wait for Kirsty’s next collection which I have on preorder. I read a review on goodreads which compared her short stories to the early work of du Maurier and, honestly, I can see that as a lover of du Maurier’s work. This collection was honestly one of the best collections I have read in a long time, there were a few stories that I didn’t enjoy which ultimately brings this down to a quite harsh 4* – I may end up changing it to 5* with more time to think on it!

Review: The Gracekeepers – Kirsty Logan

gracekeepersThis book is beautiful. Inside and out. I’ve taken my time to compose this review – and decide on my final rating.

I could very have easily read this book in one sitting but it was one I actually wanted to savour. The prose in this novel is just absolutely gorgeous and the world building that Kirsty has done here is just masterful. This story wouldn’t have been nearly as good if it wasn’t for her use of language; it really captured the magic of the mysterious circus ship.

In the end, after listening to a clip of Kirsty reading this, I couldn’t resist buying the audiobook and I seriously, seriously recommend it. It added a whole new level to it and allowed me to savour it for longer! It definitely added a little more magic to the story – it was a very passive narration, it was slow and gentle but powerful all the same.

This is an old fashioned story in my opinion. It’s based on Scottish folklore and myth but is a modern fairytale twist on several bits of the history. We follow, mainly, North and Callanish and their experiences as a bear girl in a floating circus and a Gracekeeper respectively. Their paths inevitably cross and it changes both of their lives for the better. I won’t give too much away because I feel this is definitely a story that needs to be read!

I struggled getting a rating for this one because I really loved it, I really wanted to give it 5 stars but… the ending was a little hurried in my opinion. It was a fitting, wonderful ending but it felt rushed. The last quarter I couldn’t put down whatsoever, the combination of circumstance and great characters made this so difficult to put down and I just felt bereft when it was actually over. So, on a lot more thought I decided to stick with the initial 4/5. READ THIS. It’s beautiful. It’s definitely one of my favourite books of the year!