Thursday 9 February 2012

40. Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
Published February 2012 Allen & Unwin

From the publisher:
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?
Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.

The story is broken up into sections, told from different points of view and through the eyes of different generations. The book starts with Misskaella as seen by a young boy on the beach, a witch, knitting blankets made out of seaweed.  We then go back to when Misskaella is a small child and she first feels her connection with the sea and the seals.  She grows into a woman, the only one of her sisters who doesn't marry and start her own family.  What she finds out is that she can lure the human form from the body of a seal.

When the men in the village find out about her gift, they pay her to bring them wives from the sea.  These enchanting creatures are nothing like the nagging frumpy red haired women of the island, and soon, all of the islander women have gone,  leaving only the men, their seawives and their sons. What once seemed perfect is starting to unravel and the consequences of their actions come to light.

This book is like a fairy tale for grown-ups.  Haunting, mesmerising, slightly creepy and thought provoking.  This book is published in the US and Canada as The Brides of Rollrock Island.
See an interview with Margo Lanagan below:

Who will like this book: Girls age 16+
Read it if you like: Tales from the Tower

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