The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan


Having already read and enjoyed some of Kirsty Logan’s writing I was excited about reading her latest novel, The Gloaming, which was published last year.

The Gloaming is a story in which myths and folklore play a key part, with its Scottish island setting providing the perfect backdrop for this captivating tale. In it we meet a girl called Mara, and discover the family tragedy which had a huge impact upon her life. Mara looks out to the sea, and ponders the day she will join those before her and be turned to stone, one of the islands many stories. There is however no stone remaining for one person who was torn away from the family, a victim of the unforgiving power of the sea, and this leaves the island a lonely place for a girl coming to terms with such a catastrophic event. With a family caught up in grief, Mara seeks comfort where she can, and eventually crosses paths with Pearl, an enigmatic character who happens to be a travelling mermaid performer, and a relationship builds between the pair, as Mara is given a fresh glimpse on life and love.

The Gloaming was a book that I quickly became immersed in and I thought it was wonderfully written with a lyrical feel to the writing which lends itself well to its magical and mysterious themes. Broken into three parts it has a lot of short, sharp chapters which I got through pretty quickly as it had a definite ‘one more chapter’ feel. I also liked the titles of each chapter which are all Scottish words, some of which were terms from the disciplines of boxing and ballet, a reflection on Mara’s parents. The story deals with themes of love and loss, as we see a young woman discovering her sexuality, in a time in which she is also coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. The island setting was really effective here in portraying the contrast between the loneliness and claustrophobia of a small community, alongside the sense of freedom given by the sea and the world beyond. And of course the sea ties in well with the more magical themes of the book, and the striking image of a mermaid beneath the unforgiving water.

I enjoyed The Gloaming and thought it was a beautifully written, atmospheric story of love, loss and folklore.

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