The Brides of Rollrock Island
By Margo Lanagan
Margo Lanagan has spun a fresh tale of the Irish folktale of the selkies, women who come from the sea and shed their seal skins to live on land. These women are somewhat like an Irish mermaid tale, although legend is different in that they remain on land as humans only so long as their seal skins are hidden. Once the skins are found, the women return to the sea. There have been other books written of the tale and a 1994 movie, The Secret of Roan Inish.
On Rollrock Island young Misskaella finds she has a gift with the seals; she is able to call them to her. As she grows older, she learns to use this gift and becomes known as the town witch for her ability to find “brides” for young men. As her wealth increases, suspicion grows among the women.
Lanagan’s selkie tale is richly written and will please older teens who enjoy reading as well as adults. It isn’t a book for the average teen as it is a challenging read that can be a bit slow and melancholy at times. For those willing to stick with it, however, the rewards are rich.