7064529Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge

My people knew all this once, but then we made up a story about it and forgot everything but the story.

And that is how legends are born. That is, legends, and misunderstandings…

Gullstruck Island is a Big book, with a Big story, and Big ambitions. It is about racial hatred and genocide and natural disasters all rolled into one on the fictional island of Gullstruck, and it is a good book that I am pleased to have reached the end of, for the ending alone, but it was, I found, a hard book to get in.

I am pleased that I came to reading this after having read the outstanding A Face Like Glass and the terrifyingly scary Cuckoo Song because they are, in my opinion, much stronger and more accessible books – more easily able to get into and imerse yourself in.

Gullstruck is a world where, for all its allegory for our lives and history, everything has been rewritten and reinvented and even the names are unfamiliar, and as a reader we have to piece together all of that whilst following the story. At several times I though I was just getting it, and then the scene would change and I would be left puzzling again. This is why I am offering up only four stars, but I feel that that missing star is my own star, and that if only I had understood it better I would have been able to rate it harder.

This is a book that makes you think about our society a lot. It reminds you how important it is to listen to the present, remember the past, and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.