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The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo…

The Brides of Rollrock Island

by Margo Lanagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
‘’Rollrock is a lonely island of cliffs and storms, blunt fishermen and their fierce wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic.’’

When I read (and adored) Kirsty Logan’s The Gloaming, my dear friend Marina recommended Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island because she knows how much I love myths, islands and selkies. I can honestly say (one more time) that Marina knows me frighteningly well. If you love island communities, the Scottish landscape, myths and tales, witches, weird births, seals and selkies or if you just need to read a quality tale, then you need this book in your life.

In an island that definitely resembles the Scottish Hebrides, a community is torn asunder by Misskaella’s abilities to turn seals into beautiful, alluring, seemingly docile young women. Families and relationships are turned upside down. This is Misskaella’s way of exacting revenge for years of contempt and abuse, even from her own mother. She demonstrates the evil, the hypocrisy and ruthlessness of men, their willingness to put everything at risk because of an itch.

‘’The north road swung up over the cliff almost gaily, and we walked it up into the teeth of the wind, and it battered our hair and flapped our coat-collars. The sea on our left tossed moon-twinkles about, rushed and smashed at the cliffs, drummed in the road underfoot.’’

Lanagan makes excellent use of the fairytales of the sea and the legends of the islands, focusing on the beloved myth of the selkie women. However, she develops the famous story and takes it one step further, in a brilliant twist of the ages-old legend. Furthermore, she brings the children of the selkie wives out of obscurity and gives them the chance to express their feelings of belonging to two worlds that are so close and so far away. Where do they belong? What is it that makes an island community so harsh and unforgiving? What happens when the laws of nature and its balance are violated because of men’s desires and endless ego?

Lanagan’s writing is excellent. She depicts the language of the islanders and the younger members of the community faithfully and vividly, the dialogue is flowing and natural. There are many beautiful descriptions of the island at night, the community of the seals, the fishing villages, the harsh domestic life as a responsibility of the resilient mams. There were quite a few moments that reminded me of Logan’s The Gloaming and this is the highest compliment for Lanagan’s beautiful novel.

The jewel of the story is Misskaella, a heroine that will stay with you. She is such an interesting character, so fierce and proud. The way she copes with her awful family and the heathens that surround her with their notions of propriety and their superstitions. I believe every thinking girl will find herself connected to her. She is the Witch, the ‘’Other’’, the one who doesn’t comply, the one who rebels.
The Brides of Rollrock Island is a novel rich in beautiful imagery, themes that require our attention as it happens in every well-written tale and a main character that you will love.

‘’Complain? It’s only noise.’’

* Marina, I can’t thank you enough for this gem! Hvala ti! (If I didn’t get that right, someone will find himself in trouble…) *

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Oct 12, 2018 |
I love stories of mermaids and selkies. While this book nevers uses the word selkie, that is exactly what these seal-wives are. Beautiful women who long to return to the sea, but cannot because their sealskins are hidden away to keep them enslaved.

The story is told by a series of narrators starting with the son of a seal wife, moving to the witch who calls them forward, and includes both men besotted by these enchanting creatures and human women affected by choices the men of the island make. Some of the reviews say the book is too confusing, but I had no problem keeping up. This book is more sophisticated than the YA fiction available when I was in high school. I had a hard time putting this down and look forward to other books by Margo Lanagan. ( )
  AWahle | Jun 1, 2018 |
Beautiful narration of an outstanding novel - I hardly know how to talk about it! So very good ( )
  hopeevey | May 20, 2018 |

"On remote Rollrock Island, the sea-witch Misskaella discovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. So, for a price, any man might buy himself a bride; an irresistibly enchanting sea-wife. But what cost will be borne by the people of Rollrock - the men, the women, the children - once Misskaella sets her heart on doing such a thing?"

I've always been fascinated with the legend of Selkies, ever since seeing the movie The Secret of Roan Inish which is based on the book [b:Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry|2295426|Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry|Rosalie K. Fry|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1459864579s/2295426.jpg|672792] by Rosalie Fry.

During a reading challenge around Australian Authors I had an opportunity to indulge that interest with Margo Lanagan's Sea Hearts, winner of the 2013 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year for Older Children.

Sea Hearts is a tale of desire, revenge, loyalty, heartache, loss and weakness with some magic thrown in. All the makings for a great tale.

The prose was beautifully written, though no doubt would be a struggle for younger readers. Even as an adult it took some time to move with the rhythm and flow of the book. It is thought provoking and lyrical and best for kept for when you have time to immerse yourself with intent, rather than a quick, lazy read.

The story is written from the view point of several characters (none from that of a sea-wife) but from their husbands, children and the central character, the witch Misskaella. While I normally do not enjoy a lit of shifting perspectives (as popular as it is becoming these days) this did bring interesting perspectives on the consequences of bringing forth women from the seals.

The book never really addresses the wrong or right of these actions, only urges you to consider the consequences from all angles, showing that the world is never made up of black and whites, just many shades of grey.

There are so many words to describe this book. Dark, Melancholy, Moody, Heartbreaking.

I gave Sea Hearts 3.5* because, although it was a beautiful book, it was at times difficult to read, certainly in the beginning and I felt that ultimately the end was just lacking "something". Its hard to describe what that something is... you know it when you read it.. It leaves you breathless with a sense of disbelief of what you have just read.

( )
  Dunsh01 | Feb 13, 2018 |
When I first started reading this book, I was unsure of whether I would like it or not. The first few chapters are a little unclear and not as nicely structured as I would have liked. However, the story soon picks up, and begins to flow beautifully. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, and how they are all affected by these beautiful seal-women. Calling them mermaids would be a misnomer since they really aren't like the legends - and they come from seals. Each of the perspectives had a unique voice and helped to really flesh out the story. The more you read the story, the more you feel drawn to it, and the more twisted it becomes. Let me make this clear: this is not a happy or funny story with tons of action. It is poignant, and sad, and beautiful, and dark. If that's what you are looking for, then this story will work for you. Once I got through the first few chapters, I absolutely loved this novel. I'm giving this a 4.5/5 stars but I would cautiously recommend this to other fantasy lovers.

For more reviews, visit: www.veereading.wordpress.com ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margo Lanaganprimary authorall editionscalculated
English, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oxer, EloiseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sadokierski, ZoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The old witch is there," said Raditch, peering over the top to Six-Mile Beach. "Well settled with her knitting."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Australian publication titled "Sea Hearts".
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Book description
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.
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"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"--… (more)

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