This book is an emotional, haunting rollercoaster of fairytale-meets-stranded-islanders-meets-teenage-sexual-awakening-meets-mermaids. Except it’s not about mermaids, really. Or is it?
The Gloaming is told by Kirsty Logan in a particularly involving, alluring and – frankly – deceptive way, spinning us from one member to another of the Ross family who live on a weird island somewhere. This island, and each of the Ross family’s experience of it, seems to suggest it exists in a fluid reality-mythical status where they go about their lives amongst fairy stories, moody visions, superstitions, half-stories, and a fear of death that involves all the islanders eventually turning to stone.
After their little brother, Bee, drowns sisters Islay and Mara’s world collapses and they try to fight through theirs – and their parents – grief by exploring their own minds, the islands and their newly discovered sexual desires. If you’re a teen girl reading this, and wondering about your sexuality, this book does an amazing, sensory, emotional job of depicting how one girl’s life changes when love and sex walks into it. Or, in this case, perhaps swims into it in the form of Pearl who is an is-she-or-isn’t-she mermaid.
There are a lot of weaved storylines here that interact organically, and they all have a very dark undertone. So much so that this book is probably just as much a lament on mourning a close relative as it is a coming-of-age story. Either way, it certainly swept me away and I enjoyed how every page was deliciously described, the island felt like both an ominous and magical place I lived with the family, amongst all their myths and legends. And, ultimately, it becomes a story full of symbols of the different and endless kinds of love there are in the world.
A beautiful, atmospheric and incredibly haunting story.