Today I’m shining the bookish spotlight on one of my favourite authors, Kirsty Logan. Hailing from Scotland, much of her work has the lifeblood of Celtic folklore and fairy tales running through it, with enchanting characters, absorbing plots and worlds, lyrical prose, and a whimsical tone that is right up my street.
To date, she has released a novel, The Gracekeepers; two short story collections, The Rental Heart and other Fairy Tales, and A Portable Shelter; and a flash fiction chapbook, The Psychology of Animals Swallowed Alive.
One of my favourites amongst these is The Gracekeepers, the story of a largely flooded world in which society is split into those who live on the small pockets of remaining land, and those who live aboard ships on the open water. We follow dual perspectives of a young woman with a dangerous secret who lives aboard a travelling circus boat, performing with her beloved bear, and an eponymous Gracekeeper; a person who is tasked with performing burials at sea. The story’s eclectic cast of lovable characters and striking imagery stole my heart. Here is an excerpt from one of my favourite passages:
“When people are cruel it’s often said that they have no heart, only a cold space or lump of ice in their chest. This was never true of Avalon. She had no heart, everyone knew, but there was nothing cold about her. In her chest burned an enormous coal, white-hot, brighter than the North Star. North knew the truth about Avalon: she was made of fire, and she would burn them all.”
My other favourite is A Portable Shelter, a series of interconnected short stories that read like fairy tales, with an ongoing narrative in between which sees two women awaiting the birth of their first child, taking turns to tell their unborn baby stories which mask truths about the world, having both vowed to never tell the child a lie. It’s a beautifully executed book all about the power and importance of storytelling.
I eagerly await whatever Logan shares with us next, and urge any of you at all interested in her work to give it a go.