This is an island where daughters are returned to the sea, where boys grow up wild and half-seal themselves, where the mainland looks on suspiciously, viewing Rollrock Island as a place of magic and fears, where the population grows steadily less human. Matters begin to build to a head when the children get involved and decide to free the selkies, who resolve to take their children with them, at one fell swoop taking all the women and children from the island and returning them to the sea.
Some of the children survive and return to the island, while others are slaughtered far from home; Lanagan paints an image of seas running red with blood that might come from seals, selkies, or something in-between that gave me the chills, personally. We see the terrifying witch through the eyes of young children, and we see her as a young woman ostracised by the island and then greedily sought-after because of her skills.
She drifts through Rollrock Island alone, even with her apprentice by her side, longing for a resolution that will never come no matter how many selkies she raises and how many men she ruins. The tale becomes a stark narrative about revenge, justice, and the harsh realities of life in a world that is often unfair and keeps raining down the unfairness without much pity. Also by Margo Lanagan. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History.
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The Brides of Rollrock Island
LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. The Brides of Rollrock Island has a haunting and sad air about it, much like a Gothic novel, and while one could impose its time as early 20th century, the story also remains timeless in a manner that is rarely captured.
The island of Rollrock itself embodies the notion of setting as character with a spirit, personality, and story of its own. It will make you long to breathe salt in the air, spend your days on rocky shores, and gaze into the sad, dark eyes of wild creatures.
Detailed Review Summary of The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
One of the most unique aspects of The Brides of Rollrock Island is the way it tells a very adult story through the eyes of children and young adults. Each narration in the book is from the eyes of a child or young adult, and as they age into adulthood we stumble into the point of view of another, learning to see the island and its people in new ways.
Creating the perfect crossover story, Lanagan has written a tale that will captivate young and old alike with an ebb and flow of characters that matches the ever changing sea itself.
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- Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan | this ain't livin'.
Our characters grow, our views of them morph from pity to understanding to admiration to scorn as we experience The Brides of Rollrock Island from nearly all angles. Nearly, I say, because there is one point of view that remains elusive—that of the sea brides themselves. I actually kind of love that while we are given a small glimpse of their souls, the selkie women remain largely mysterious and otherworldly. As humans, we so often need human or part human narrators to understand those creatures of myth, and The Brides of Rollrock Island is no exception.
Their men, children, and those who lived elsewhere certainly never fully understood these women, so who am I to do so? It was one of my most anticipated reads of , and it did not disappoint—on the contrary—it exceeded all possible expectations and has been one of my favorite reads this year.
Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks. View all 13 comments.
When you read a Margo Lanagan book, you expect it to both confuse and enthrall you. Those who want to find a depiction of the complex meanings of domestic loyalty get that.
Or you can also read it for its marvelous craft, its characterization and worldbuilding. I find stories contained in a small area, where each inhabitant must be developed with his or her unique idiosyncrasies, so much more interesting and realistic than plain-Jane YAs set in Anywheretown, America. The people and the island setting force one another to reveal their imperfect, weird aliveness.
View all 5 comments. I got this on audio from AudioBookSync Wow, this book is weird. There's something peculiarly haunting about selkie folklore. I can picture a careworn, exhausted mother telling the story to her daughter.
Once the women could swim free, before they were robbed of their skins. I can see a father, still mourning the loss of his wife from childbirth, telling it to his young son. The women don't want to leave their husbands and children, but they're torn, and the sea is in their nature, and someday th I got this on audio from AudioBookSync Wow, this book is weird. The women don't want to leave their husbands and children, but they're torn, and the sea is in their nature, and someday they must return to it. The symbolism of the story is so very direct: when the man sees the selkie women, carefree and beautiful and happy, he is enchanted, and his enchantment quickly turns to acquisitive lust.
He steals a skin and thereby imprisons the maiden, turning her from a creature of the wild seas to an obedient wife.
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He keeps her skin--her agency--locked away, and without it, she is utterly dependent upon him, unable to leave, unfit to seek the freedom of the ocean. But since this is a fairy tale, the skin cannot remain hidden forever. When the selkie gets it back, she abandons not only her greedy husband but usually her children as well. Is this, too, a metaphor?
An attempt to explain to a child why a mother might leave, either through death or by her own volition? And which is the happy ending? I suppose it depends upon who is telling the story. But anyway, Lanagan took a different path. While the theme of selkie freedom is of course intrinsic to the story, she leaves the agency metaphor alone. In fact, despite a massive narrative cast, the only set of characters who are never given voices are the selkies themselves. Throughout the story, they remain mute, stripped of self-expression along with their skins. The oddest aspect of Lanagan's version, and the part I can't wrap my mind around, is that in her story, the root cause of all the evil is a wicked witch.
In the end, the men may be weak for bowing to temptation, but since there are evil spells involved, they must not be all that bad for imprisoning the selkies, forcing them into marriage, effectively raping them, and ignoring their overwhelming depression. Clearly it's all the fault of that wicked female witch.
see url There's an overarching theme of evil begetting evil--after all, we get to see how the evil witch becomes an evil witch--but I couldn't help but feel that her presence trivializes things a bit. Or maybe not. Maybe Lanagan doesn't see temptation as an excuse. I suppose it's all down to interpretation. I'm not sure it's something I would have picked up myself, but I definitely found Sea Hearts a thought-provoking read. And he was right. What is striking about the story is the language, which was so unlike anything else I had ever read I was mesmerised.
I loved it. So did the rest of the world. Black Juice ended up being a Michael L. So when I heard a few years later that Margo had written a novel, I was keen to read it.