The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
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.
The folktale of the selkie is an inherently heartwrenching story; the ensnared selkie, the abandoned children… but despite its richness, it doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in this current wave of supernatural fiction. Perhaps this import will change things.
This book’s addition to my reading list is all Ana at things mean a lot‘s fault; her praise for how the novel dissects gender dynamics is practically infectious. Eva at A Striped Armchair loved it, especially the deft characterization. Catie at the Readventurer adores Lanagan, and this was no different. While Niall Alexander, writing for Tor, warns readers of Lanagan’s extremely poetic style, he still thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Brides of Rollrock Island was published on September 11.