The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Book Review

Book Title: The Gloaming (review copy)

Author: Kirsty Logan

Book Series: Gracekeepers, #0.5 (The Gloaming acts as a stand-alone prequel to Logan’s 2015 novel Gracekeepers)

Genre: Adult fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Gothic

Blurb from Goodreads

‘The best lives leave a mark.’ A bewitching tale of first love, shattering grief, and the dangerous magic that draws us home

Mara’s island is one of stories and magic, but every story ends in the same way. She will finish her days on the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the islanders before her.

Mara’s parents – a boxer and a ballerina – chose this enchanted place as a refuge from the turbulence of their previous lives; they wanted to bring up their children somewhere special and safe. But the island and the sea don’t care what people want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world unravels. 

It takes the arrival of Pearl, mysterious and irresistible, to light a spark in Mara again, and allow her to consider a different story for herself. 

The Gloaming is a gorgeous tale of love and grief, and the gap between fairy tales and real life.

My Review

A book of quiet beauty with a most haunting of storylines… that sadly bored me to tears. No matter how hard I tried I could not engage with these characters; I found reading a chore.

Sometimes a book just doesn’t fit with a reader because of circumstances outside of everyone’s control. I feel this is one of those times. 

The storyline was so magical, so ethereal… therefore the mix between reality and folklore should have worked for me.

The beautiful exploration of the feminine should have worked…

This was a novel all about women and how the world affects us, how we deal emotionally with the occurrences of life.

But I’m here feeling somewhat confused. 

Mara, who appears to have been the main character just never leapt off the page and grabbed me. I spent so much time confused between Mara, her sister Islay and their mother Signe… No one identity truly felt complete to me.

This is a book about the intangibilities of life, about myth and magics, but to me the book needed a stronger MC to anchor the storyline, to give it an earthier feel among all the ethereal characters.

I would have loved to have understood Pearl in particular as a character. I really wanted to know about her relationship with Mara from Pearl’s viewpoint. Perhaps it would have helped me to fully connect with them as a couple.

Signe, the mother, to me was the most interesting of the female characters. Her actions and motivations at times were confusing to me but because she had this inner complexity unlike the other characters I was fascinated by all she did and said. And I really did love the completion of her character arc.

Another point I did enjoy was this idea of a stony grave. Of people slowing down over time to complete stillness but still somehow not being apart from the living, this idea that they were still waiting for something even after the end…. It was very beautifully written. 

The prose was rather odd to me. It was beautiful but then at times it seemed a little crass. It’s not that there were that many swear words used or indeed that it was ever offensive. This book certainly isn’t. I just found the use of swear words juxtaposed in a rather unsettling manner with what I was expecting from this style of book. I guess I was searching for something a little more traditionally poetic. 

I did try to like this book. But ultimately I struggled greatly with it. I found it to be too slow moving and I just was not a huge fan of how the majority of the characters were written.

Not for me.

*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Random House UK Vintage Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review that I originally wrote and posted to Goodreads in 2018.*

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