Gullstruck Island

[Review] Gullstruck Island / The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
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They smile all of the time, and do not quite understand the expressions of others.

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Their names are created to imitate the sounds of nature, so as not to draw attention from the volcanoes they live near—surely they will not look upon you if they hear only bird calls or water songs. The Lace burn their dead, and scatter their ashes to the wind, forgetting the names of those gone before them and never ever writing them down. Of course, their culture is in stark contrast to the rest of the island, those who remember their dead and honor them before the living.

These people carve out the best lands for their dead, so that they may have comfort in the afterlife, and towns slowly die from the inside out as the plots of the dead grow and the homes of the living must uproot. Neither culture can understand the other, and it is true that we always fear what we cannot understand.

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The Lost are a people unto themselves, rarely born, they are the messaging system of Gullstruck Island. The Lost can unhinge their senses from their body and set them afloat, informing on coming storms, lost goats, and passing messages from one coast to the other. Arilou was born Lost, or at least, the Hollow Beasts tribe would like to think as much as the notoriety and respect granted from having a Lost in their midst is too precious to overlook. The reality, however, is no one is quite sure if Arilou is really Lost, or merely wander-witted. Hathin has made her way into the ranks of my favorite female leads by being completely blind to her own strengths, but unyielding to what anyone else would deem her fate.

Hathin is four feet of courage, she is part pirate, she has a frighteningly audacious spirit who will take her over, and yet she is completely forgettable to everyone. Each and every character in The Lost Conspiracy is so strong, even those we hardly know we get to feel so completely. We know what certain characters have been through in the way that Hathin relates to them, we see those who could be more, and those who are looking for a challenge.

I also kid you not when I state that one of the villains was the most infuriatingly evil antagonist I have encountered since Dolores Umbridge. Frances Hardinge allows us to see into the minds of the villains, but the fact that the depth of The Lost Conspiracy remains a complete mystery is a testament to the adept hand with which this story is created. I could happily expound upon my favorite characters, but I feel even revealing their names in tandem with my final thoughts could potentially spoil the journey, and so I will leave it here.

It will ask you to question the meaning of stories, acknowledge the importance of understanding one another, understanding yourself, and knowing what you need from life. It is a story of stories in which we get to wonder how much of what is made up just might be true, and how much is really just conspiracy.

The Lost Conspiracy exists so that when you pass the point where the stories end, you will know you can go on. Review originally posted at Bunbury in the Stacks.

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Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge | The Sunday Times

I'm alone. I can do anything. I can leave Jealousy! Also, apparently, The Lost Conspiracy. The author? Also author of A Face Like Glass , even better than The Lie Tree but perhaps a bit too fantastic to be considered for "serious" awards. And several other books that I have not yet read and can't comment on, except to say two are on my TBR shelf and the rest are waiting in the wings. Can't ignore the elephant in the room. You'll find this in the children's section of your local book store.

Look under "Middle-grade".

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The average year old could happily read it. Ignore that. Yes, if you know a child of that age buy them a copy, but get one for yourself, as well. The book is ageless unless you're a snob about such things , as suitable for this year-old as it would be for the kids it's marketed to. In Hardinge's world, there is an island called Gullstruck. It's a warm, tropical place, dominated by relatively quiet, but still active, volcanoes. Various tribes native to the island form the majority of the population, but the rulers for the past couple of centuries are the Cavalcaste.

Originally from a colder, remote country, they have brought their own beliefs with them, primarily a reverence for their ancestors, to whose remains they turn over their finest homes and most desirable land. Among the inhabitants of the island are the Lost, born at random to any of the tribes or the colonizers, their senses are loosely tied to their bodies, and can be sent out into the world, to see in one place, hear in another, feel in yet another, helping their communities keep track of their world.

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Assuming, that is, that they can find their way back to their bodies, without getting, well, lost. To one tribe, the Lace, a people nearly incapable of not smiling despite centuries of hatred towards them for actions taken to calm the volcanoes, a Lost child was born over a dozen years ago. Arilou has now attracted the attention of a Lost Inspector, who has come to test her.

Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge

But is she really Lost, and a person of great importance, or merely an imbecile Hardinge's word? And the characters! And the plot twists! I loved Hathin with the force of a thousand supernovas. I loved her dedication to her sister Arilou, her feelings of pain and fear and ineptitude when her tribe is massacred, her desire to seek revenge and join the Reckoning. I loved Arilou, too, and the twists that come with her character in particular.

Gullstruck Island is a wonderful, complex novel as it is, but it probably could stand some careful pruning — which would not only help the story move along in a more direct fashion, but could also help its marketability to new audiences. Wholeheartedly, unabashedly recommended. It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.

He took only his sight and hearing with him. There was no point in bringing those senses that would make him feel the chill of the sapphire-bright upper air or the giddiness of his rapid rise. Like all Lost, he had been born with his senses loosely tethered to his body, like a hook on a fishing line.

He could let them out, then reel them in and remember all the places his mind had visited meanwhile. Indeed, a gifted Lost might feel the grass under their knees, taste the peach in your hand, overhear a conversation in the next village, and smell cooking in the next town, all while watching barracudas dapple and flit around a shipwreck ten miles out to sea.

Raglan Skein, however, was doing nothing so whimsical. He had to take his body on a difficult and possibly perilous journey the next day, and he was spying out the land. It was a relief to see the world plummet away from him so that everything became smaller. More manageable.

Less dangerous.

Gullstruck Island

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Gullstruck Island, was written by Frances Hardinge and published on June 1, It was the fourth fantasy book written by Frances Hardinge. Gullstruck Island was written by Frances Hardinge and published on June 1, It was the fourth fantasy book written by Frances Hardinge. Summary[edit].

But I just finished Face like glass and the two mosca myes! Despite seeing Fly by night around the library many times, somehow I never had the urge to actually read it. But your reviews finally got me to! And I really enjoyed the books, but I think I like Face like glass most of all because of the eyepoppingness of the world combined with epic moments and insane characters.

Especially love the way the final plot went. The setting reminded me a bit of the Philippines, which is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much.