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The Blue Salt Road (2018)

by Joanne M Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1134236,605 (3.43)4
An earthly nourris sits and sings; And aye she sings, "Ba lilly wean, Little ken I my bairn's father, Far less the land that he staps in. (Child Ballad, no. 113). So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man. Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there - without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed. Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
Reads like a folklore tale, which was nice. Wasn't the biggest fan of the prologue or the epilogue; felt they were perhaps unneeded or could have been altered in some way to add something extra as opposed to reiterating already known information. Read this book while I was cold, and I was Shivering by the end with how well that feeling is described. A neat little story about selkies and the sea. ( )
  grandma.meg | Jul 12, 2022 |
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea, and with the mythology that surrounds it - sirens, mermaids, selkies - as the ocean seems to be a magical place that begets myth only rivalled by the depths of the world’s forests. Many of our ancestral forests have long since been tamed by man, but the ocean remains a place of mystery, danger, and secrets that even in modernized mythology holds its own in realism. This short novel explores a story of the selkies, the race of magical seal-people who live in the northern oceans, during the time of the great whaling expeditions that were launched off the northern coasts of Scotland. Most selkie stories that I have heard or read previously have been centred around the female of the species, who are lured and captured by men who are captivated by their beauty and mystery, but I was surprised to find that the gender roles were reversed here. Instead of a coastal fisherman who is tempted by an underwater siren, we have a conniving Scottish lass who refuses to settle for anything less than a prince, and who uses the advice of her grandmother to lure and tame a prince of the selkies. Harris is not unique in her motifs or themes here, invoking expected feelings of betrayal and disgust in the reader for the reprehensible loss of freedom in another soul, but that does not make the story any less profound. Men can be trapped equally to women (even though it takes a physical loss of memory through magic), and her use of historical narrative to place the story gives it a depth that is often missing in simpler stories. We see the selkie man forced to eat seal meat, hunt the animals who were his friends when he lived in the ocean, and struggle against the confines of a religion that dominates and binds the more natural order of the animal and mythical world as Harris explores the world at a time when whaling culture was the norm for coastal communities and was therefore making the ventures of man even more fraught with danger than when these same communities relied on their simple nets for sustenance. Accompanying the text are lovely line drawings by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, which give us a visual cue into a time and place that is far unknown to most modern readers. I honestly would have liked to see even more of Hawkins’ work, and for this book to have been marketed as a fully illustrated novel, since the text and drawings complement each other very well and the illustrations keep the reader from getting bogged down in some of the more flat narrative moments that come with Harris’ style of storytelling. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Harris's tale of the Selkie has the descriptive beauty of her novel writing. The tale is haunting and it reads like a familiar fairy tale. ( )
  Georgina_Watson | Jun 14, 2020 |
A wonderful retelling of the selkie legend, a beautifully dark tale of love and betrayal. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harris, Joanne Mprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hawkins, BonnieIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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An earthly nourris sits and sings; And aye she sings, "Ba lilly wean, Little ken I my bairn's father, Far less the land that he staps in. (Child Ballad, no. 113). So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man. Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there - without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed. Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

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