Book Review: A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan

A portable shelter kirsty logan book cover

I’m going to tell you a story.

This was a spiderweb of a book: a collection of short stories deftly threaded together. Ruth and Liska are expecting their first child, and have retreated to a tiny cottage on the north coast of Scotland. They have agreed to only tell their child truths, however both are telling it stories; Ruth in the day while Liska is at work, and Liska at night while Ruth sleeps. The collection is made of the stories they tell.

And what stories! Selkies and circuses and dragons and bicycles. The ordinary and the magical; the ordinary as magical, and vice-versa. Stories of love and loss and hard lessons and hope. Through these tales, we catch glimpses of the women doing the telling. Of who they are and where they’ve beena and how they see the world. It is wonderful and weird – reading it felt a little like catching a werewolf mid-change: scary, magical, and impossible to look away from. I found myself intrigued by the layers; the stories and the people behind them. I admire Kirsty Logan’s skill in telling us a big story by telling lots of little ones (though of course this is not a new technique). This book is a gem, and one which I think will stand-up well to re-reading.

Rating: read this book, and dive down into the salt.

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