Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge

The Blurb

On Gullstruck Island the volcanoes quarrel, beetles sing danger and fish can see the future. But look closer into the mists and you might glimpse…

The jewelled smiles of a persecuted tribe.
A tattooed band of warriors hell-bent on revenge.
A blue-skinned bounty hunter painted with the ashes of those he’s killed.
And two girls with a deadly secret, running for their lives.

My Thoughts

Gullstruck Island Cover

4 / 5 stars

A beautifully written and thoughtful adventure story.

Hathin is one of The Lace – a tribe isolated, distrusted and excluded from island life. Her sister Arilou is one of The Lost – certain people who can send their mind and their senses out from their bodies and roam around the island. They act as messengers, spies, weather predictors and are very highly regarded. But Arilou needs constant care because she seems unable to return her mind to her body.

Arilou is to be tested for her abilities by the government and her family hope that she will bring back respect and a better standing for The Lace as a whole. But on the day of the tests, The Lace are attacked and Hathin must take Arilou and run for their lives.

Hathin is brave and courageous but just a normal girl trying to do the best for her sister and her people. She’s not super intelligent, super strong or super caring and because of that, I found her easy to relate to and so even more inspiring.

The adventure is fun and scary at the same time, the story has a lot of darkness in it. It’s based on prejudice and genocide but manages to tackle these in a way where it feels like an important part of the story but not likes it is written just to be a moral lesson. The darkness is tempered by the fairy tale feel of the story and the tone is kept hopeful without being overwhelming.

As good a character as Hathin is, the real star of this book is Gullstruck Island itself. The different tribes and the landscapes feel real, the volcanoes are given personalities of their own with the myths that exist around them. This is a book that you can get lost in and the landscape and people of Gullstruck Island are a big part of that.

This book has everything – good story, good characters, a world that feels real and beautiful writing to hold it all together.

If I had to pick a fault with it there are maybe a few too many lucky escapes and convenient events that help Hathin along her way. She doesn’t always think her way out, sometimes it is just handed to her. But that’s kind of standard for an adventure story and didn’t spoil it too much, these kind of stories are always a little unrealistic.

I highly recommend this, if you want an adventure story, this is almost perfect.

Gullstruck Island
Frances Hardinge
Young Adult Fantasy
December 16th 2008
Paperback
499

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