- Author Karin Altenberg
I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. The amount of research that has gone into this shines through from the very start, and it becomes obvious quite quickly that this is a fiction story layered on top of what really should have been a non-fiction piece about the island of St Kilda.
There are detailed descriptions about the people, about their customs and unique way of life, from the way they hunt puffins to the way a marriage ceremony unfolds. Based on letters and records from the island at the time, the story fictionalises a real life attempt to bring Christianity to the island.
The trouble is that the story, whilst interesting enough, isn’t given enough time to breathe. The characters are held at arm’s length so that you can never really know why they are motivated to do something. Although we are given insights into what they are thinking at selected times, the narrative flip flops between characters without any clear path.
Overall, it was interesting enough to hold my attention, and a fascinating glimpse of life on an island that appears quite hostile to human life. The characters and story don’t quite live up to the promise, though.