By Frances Hardinge
Published by MacMillan
ISBN 978 1 4050 5538 3
If ever you were fortunate enough to find Gullstruck Island on a map, the first thing you would notice would be how isolated it was. And you would see it's shaped like a twisted, hunchbacked figure stretching out its fingers and toes. If the map showed the terrain of the island, you would certainly see volcanoes, the tallest being the King of Fans.
From the map you might think that Gullstruck Island was just another blob of land in the ocean. But you would be very wrong. The volcanoes quarrel, the treacherous reefs hold secrets and from time to time a very special soul is born. Nothing is what it seems.
Every so often, a Lost is born on Gullstruck Island. The Lost are scarce and valued individuals with the ability to let their five senses fly out of their body at will.
This small band of special Gullstruck citizens provides the other islanders with information and knowledge that keeps everyone safe and happy. These Lost are controlled by the Sightlords of the Lost Council.
Thirteen years ago, a Lost was born in the Lace tribe. Arilou lives with her mother and younger sister, Hathin, in a small coastal village. The Lace tribe once populated most of the western half of the island. Now a minority, their people earn a meagre living by diving for pearls.
The Lace has certainly seen better times, but salvation from further poverty and a way to bring back its past glories might just well be on the horizon. The time is almost due for Arilou to exploit her abilities.
Hathin is under a great deal of pressure to make sure Arilou has everything she wants. The Lost girl could be key to the happiness of the whole tribe, so Hathin can't afford to have a life of her own.
The time has come for Arilou to prove to the Council that she is a true Lost and ready to serve the island. A Lost Inspector arrives in the village to assess Arilou.
In theory, nothing can possibly go wrong. But Arilou and Hathin have a secret that could ruin everything.
When the inspector is mysteriously murdered, the two sisters have to find a way of holding onto their terrible secret. The future of the entire Lace tribe rests on their young shoulders.
At 512 pages, Frances Hardinge's Gullstruck Island is a long book, but it never loses its pace, its gentle humour or clever plotting. It's a dazzling and richly imagined fantasy that takes readers into a completely original, unpredictable world.
Welcome to Gullstruck Island. You will enjoy your stay.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com