Sunday, September 2, 2012
Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Source: Netgalley for an honest review
Publication Date: September 11
Short Synopsis (Goodreads): On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings--and to catch their wives.
The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.
Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.
My review: One of my most favorite movies is The Secret of Roan Inish. I love anything to deal with Ireland and this movie had beautiful scenery, great accents and actors (especially the kids) and a touching story. That was probably my first real introduction to the selkie myth.
This book brought back all of the memories of that movie, and more besides. If your looking for a light happy read, this isn't it. It took a bit to get through this book because it was pretty heavy.
Ms. Lanagan does a stupendous job going into all of the details that make the myth real. At first I didn't appreciate how the points of view changed every 60 pages or so (sometimes shorter) but it really made for a well rounded understanding of what was going on, who was feeling what and why. We learn about the witch who made it all possible, the boys who fell in love with the selkie women, the families that were torn apart by it, the children of the selkies and men, and the girls who fall in love with those sons. I only realized as I thought about it that we never see anything from the selkies point of view, but it wasn't really necessary either, though we do understand a bit of what they go through, both happy and sad.
Again, not an easy book because of how realistic it felt for me but that was also its strength. I could feel the cold, the attraction, the heartache and the hope. The prose was simply beautiful. I'm giving this a 4 not because it was my most most favorite book ever, but because of how beautifully it was written and how wholly I was immersed into it.