The Gloaming, by Kirsty Logan

To stay in the gloaming is to hold off the night. But if the night never comes, then neither can the day.

Rating: 3/5
Author: Kirsty Logan
Genre: fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Harvill Secker

The GloamingThe Ross family decided to move to a remote island with their two daughters to live a more peaceful life. A large, pink-ish and abandoned mansion makes for their new home; however, despite their feigned efforts, it will never be completely renovated. Truthfully, it will never be anything but a house in ruins. Come hell or high water, the Ross family seeks desperately for a place to stay grounded. Mirroring the family’s desire, the nameless island fights continuously against the dominant force of the sea. When its residents are about to die, they climb up a hill where they will become statues forever. Finally, they reach stillness, a place where their roots can cling to the earth.

The Gloaming is a story about hope, growing up, love and grief. Angela Carter’s influence in this book speaks volumes, offering that unique twist to fairy tales, those stories that talk of ferocious beasts, maidens with hacked-off toes or mermaids that kill children. Logan explores the real meaning behind these fairy tales; more specifically, gender roles, the oppression of women and the idealized concept of love. A fairy tale does not necessarily suggest a fairy-tale ending. Does happiness mean staying in the same place and fighting for what you love? Is there any happiness in abandoning and getting back to your old self? The Ross sisters had been exposed to sugar-coated fairy tales while growing up, and only their turning point occurs when they finally experience that suffocating feeling from a love that consumes everything, even your own identity. The fisherman snatched the selkie’s skin to force her to stay; however, no matter how much you give the selkie in return, she will always long for the sea.

Furthermore, the Ross family is inevitably involved in a constant struggle between stillness and change. This false sense of balance that they are striving to hold can waver as they approach a relentless storm, whose force is strong enough to sweep everything on its way, while also returning everything to its place.

How are these stories different from real life? Read the book to find out. You will be surprised to discover how a story full of fantastical elements conveys such a real message.

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