Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island (originally published as Sea Hearts) by Margo Lanagan is a haunting retelling of the selkie legend. (Note: my browser's spellcheck dictionary does not recognize the word "selkie." It recommends replacing it with "selfie." This is what's wrong with the world, you guys.)

It all begins with Misskaella, a dissatisfied, unattractive young girl who discovers that she has an inexplicable affinity for the seals that bask on the rocks around Rollrock Island. First, she learns how to suppress this connection -- but later in her life, she learns how to exploit it. Misskaella can bring wives from the sea to the men of Rollrock: gentle, docile, sensual wives, more attractive and biddable than any land maiden. But, as Misskaella knows, the magic comes at a terrible price. . . .

I'm always a little intimidated by Margo Lanagan, for some reason. When I get past that and actually read her stuff, I find it intelligent and compelling. She does an excellent job with subtle emotion and atmosphere. This is the sort of book that sticks with the reader for days after the cover has been closed.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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