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Gullstruck Island

I have lady_schrapnell to thank for recommending Gullstruck Island, by Frances Hardinge. I don't think, had I judged it by its cover, that I would have picked it up otherwise. Thank heavens for lady_schrapnell!!

This is a completely wonderful fantasy adventure, everything you'd want in such a book: it's fun, challenging, thoughtful, exciting, original, enchanting.

It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as a sea swell, and took to the sky.

How could you resist such a beginning? And what follows doesn't disappoint.

First, it is a completely original world, populated with people such as the Lace, who decorate their teeth with shells and smile when they are distressed. Or there are the Lost, who can leave their bodies and travel, using their senses independently "like snails eyes on stalks." Then there are the Cavalcaste people, the Colonizers, who are aliens, but the ones with power. Gullstruck Island is perhaps loosely New Zealand, but not quite anywhere except itself. Any analogy between Europeans and Maori is not heavy-handed at all and only serves to add depth to the intense and thoughtful story.

The plot centers around Hathin, a Lace girl, and her sister Arilou, who may, or may not, be a Lost. When all the other Lost are mysteriously killed, Hathin and Arilou find themselves fighting for their lives, the focus of a relentless conspiracy. I love the way that Hardinge turns many of the conventions of adventure stories inside out - nothing is quite what you would expect, and everything is complex and subtle, beyond expectations.

It's just a terrific book, and you should read it. What more can I say?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
labellementeuse
Aug. 19th, 2009 09:41 am (UTC)
Have you read Fly By Night? it is the only book by Frances Hardinge I have read (although you make this one sound great) and I just loved it!
intertext
Aug. 19th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
I haven't, though I think I might. Lady S had, and liked this one better.
lidocafe
Aug. 19th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
S read Fly By Night and really enjoyed it. I'll get her Gullstruck Island for Christmas.
intertext
Aug. 19th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Yay! I think she'll like it.
penmage
Aug. 19th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Ditto this. Fly By Night is one of my alltime favorites. I've got the ARC of Lost Conspiracy, and have been waiting for the right moment to plunge into it.
intertext
Aug. 20th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
I just looked that up on GoodReads, and realized that Lost Conspiracy must be the US title for Gullstruck Island. It's obviously the same book. So, yay - I'm sure you'll like it.
steepholm
Aug. 19th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
I've read this one and Verdigris Deep (thanks also to the currently internetless Lady S), but not Fly By Night yet. I really like the two I've read a lot, and like the fact that they're so different, too. How refreshing to see a writer with the confidence to build a complex, satisfying world and characters to match, and not have it be the first of a tetralogy!
jasminembla.wordpress.com
Aug. 19th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I'm working on a reading list for a course on Pacific lit. I wonder if this could possibly count?

Thanks for the post on it!

-Jasmine
lady_schrapnell
Aug. 20th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Oh - this post makes me so very happy! Book-love-sharing is the best. (And, ditto on the cover. It looks quite generic-adventure-fantasy.)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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