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The Brides of Rollrock Island

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,942 ratings  ·  748 reviews
On remote Rollrock Island, men make their living--and fetch their wives--from the sea.

The Witch Misskaella knows how to find the girl at the heart of a seal. She'll coax a beauty from the beast for any man, for a price. And what man wouldn't want a sea-wife, to and to hold, and to keep by his side forever?

But though he may tell himself that he is the master, one look in hi
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Stacia (the 2010 club)
If you have any expectations of what this book will be like based on the cover, throw them away. You won't find a dreamy, romantic, fairy-tale retelling here.

It's more like this type of crazy business going on...

Recipe for a twisted, dark fairy tale :

1. One crazy witch
2. Stupid men who think with the wrong head
3. Seals (I'm being serious, the actual sea creatures)
4. Blank-eyed women who are willing to serve their men Stepford-Wife style.

Confused yet? Trust me, I was confused for the first coupl
There’s no question in my mind that this book is brilliantly written. I’ve been consistently impressed and moved by Margo Lanagan’s prose since my first experience with her work a few years ago and this book does not disappoint in that regard. However, and this will actually be a positive for many readers – this book is far more tame and accessible than Tender Morsels. It’s even more accessible than the short story of hers that I read in Zombies vs. Unicorns last year. And that’s not to say that ...more

4.5 stars
”Was she beautiful, the sea-maid? Fair strange, Doris had said, and I thought that was a fine assessment.
Fair strange. I think that’s a fine assessment of Sea Hearts too: beautiful in, or for, its unusualness.

It’s proving extremely difficult to review Sea Hearts (titled The Brides of Rollrock Island in the US) in isolation, and not hold it up against Lanagan’s previous novel, Tender Morsels. Though I read the latter earlier this year, I still haven’t been able to wrangle my thoughts in
The Brides of Rollrock Island is one of those novels that left me with the thought that there is no possible word in the English language that could even attempt to summon up the strange, ethereal, and mystifying experience that is chronicled in this book. As my first venture into Lanagan’s world, I have to admit that Brides simply blew me away, leaving me utterly breathless. It is a slow, intriguing tale that often reminded me of Darwin’s An Origin of Species, since, in many ways, Lanagan seems ...more
Virgil Ovid Hawkins

Seriously? Margo Lanagan writes like magic rolled up in… well, here, it’s rolled up in seaweed and seals… but whatever. She’s amazing. Her prose is perfect. I want her skills.

So on Rollrock Island, all the men are married to selkies. Misskaella the Witch, tired of being spurned by the guys and mocked by the girls, decided the best way to get revenge was to summon up incredibly attractive, pliable seal women from the ocean—and it works, because the Human W
The back of the book says we see the deepest of human cruelty, but also of love. Wrong: there is no love in this book.

If you like the last episode of Twin Peaks, you'll like this book. That's not exactly a good thing. This novel takes 'cerebral' to a whole other degree.

First off there's a difference between throwing your reader into a novel's world no holds-bar and throwing a reader into a world and not caring if they understand what on earth is going on. Only half way through the book will you
Steph Su
When you read a Margo Lanagan book, you expect it to both confuse and enthrall you. And THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND delivers that head-spinning, gut-churning, fizzy-brained mixture of “what in the world is going on?” and “did she really go there?” and “oh my goodness she is a genius.”

You can read THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND as a nontraditionally narrated snapshot of an island’s history, with no straightforward plot and no answers to what’s right or what’s wrong in this world. That’ll either
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 they
4.5 Stars

Melancholy. If I had to capture Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island in one word, melancholy would be the one. Melancholy is sad, but also thoughtful; beautiful and heartbreaking–as was this tale. The Brides of Rollrock Island isn’t a streamlined book. Told from six varying points of view our tale begins in the middle, reverses to the beginning, and moves forward to the end with a motion that indicates that this is a story that has happened before, and one that can happen again
Like nothing else.

Gorgeous. Poetic. Haunting.

As good as "Tender Morsels" -- which is basically like saying "almost perfect."


This is my first Lanagan but by no means will it be my last. From the very words chosen to the way they’d been woven together, the feel of this is long and lush, dense and at times too much. Everything is so specifically and skillfully put together, that I felt the moody, dark and yes, sometimes even disturbing tone just propelled me forward.

I’ve come away with characters that cannot help but be well-realised. Better yet, those seven voices each building upon what’s last been said serve up sto

Like the men of Rollrock Island, Sea Hearts has me enchanted by selkies. I didn't know a great deal about the mythology going into this book, but the story of Rollrock Island and its inhabitants, whose relationship with the selkies is fraught with obsession, possession and heartbreak, captured my fascination and left me wanting so much more. While the mythology itself is interesting, it's the wonderful way Margo Lanagan expands on it and builds her world around it that makes Sea Hearts truly mag
Laura Morrigan
I have always liked stories about witches. Real witches, not just monsters in stories told to scare children. They fascinate me: their strength, their outsider status, ostracised by society. Did they become a witch and then become an outcast, or did their outcast status drive them to witchcraft? What does witch mean, other than an insult for a strong or independant woman, or a woman who is just different from everyone else.

Miskaella was born looking different from the other girls on Rockroll is
Kate Forsyth
I first read Margo Lanagan a few years ago, when Garth Nix pressed a copy of her short story collection Black Juice upon me at a writer’s conference. ‘You must read this,’ he said.
‘But I really don’t like short stories,’ I said.
‘You’ll like these,’ he answered. And he was right. One of the stories in particular really haunted me – ‘Singing My Sister Down’ was a strange, dark, heartbreaking and yet beautiful story which recounts the last hours in the life of a young woman condemned to death by dr
This is one of those books were I'm completely clueless of what I could possible say about it. So I'm gonna keep this short.
While I may have struggled with the writing style, I still thought this was beautifully told. Margo Lanagan has a way she set this story. It reads like a mythical fairy tale. It's whimsical, vibrant and almost poetic, while it's characters felt haunting, fierce and achingly real. But with that said, I have to admit, I still struggled with the way this was told. I'm usually
There are rumours about Rollrock Island. Mainlanders claim that the small, remote island is populated with impossibly beautiful women … mams and wives with silken hair and long limbs, lips you could lose yourself in and fathomless eyes. They say these women came from the sea – conjured by a witch for the Rollrock men to bed and wed. Rumour has it that these sea-maidens wash ashore and bewitch men, stealing husbands and suitors alike.

But the Rollrock women are curious creatures. Born of the sea,
Melina Marchetta
It's my favourite Margo Lanagan and that's saying something. It's truly beautiful writing.
Jul 09, 2015 Cristina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, fans of dark fairytales
I don't really know where to begin with talking about this novel. I have never read anything by Margo Lanagan, but have been wanting to for some time. Seeing as I have a penchant for tales that involve the sea and magic, when I first read the synopsis for this book I knew that I wanted to read it straight away. Only trouble was - I made the mistake of ordering it on Fishpond, instead of waiting for the September 2012 US release of it under the title, The Brides of Rollrock. It wouldn't necessari ...more
Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi
I'm blown away! Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?

Don't be surprised if you see plenty of people putting this book as DNF as this books takes time. It takes time to feel its magic and get into the story. Luckily for me they are my favorite type. Also luckily for you because I'll try to make you read it and experience the real magic.

Everything starts in Rollrock Island, a very lonely place where most of the people are fisherman and they're pretty much cut out off from the outside world. They
Sean the Bookonaut
I have been captivated by Margo Lanagan’s skill as a writer since I read her short story Singing My Sister Down. I don’t recall any other short story evoking such emotion before or since.

I discovered Tender Morsels last year and that was another powerful display of skill, this time in novel form.

Sea Hearts continues this showcasing of her skill, with language and narrative. Reading Lanagan is like watching the world through aged glass. The world and its characters are identifiable but there is
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
I quite enjoyed this evocative, otherworldly tale of witches and vengeance and sea wives. It was pretty miserable what the town put Misskaella through, but in turn, it was also pretty awful what she unleashed on the town, especially those whose only transgression was being born to one of the townsfolk who'd wronged her in some way.

Told in alternating perspectives, from the witches to the men of Rollrock Island to the women who deserved better than men who sought out sea wives, Sea Hearts -- know
When she was little she knew she was different, she just didn't understand how she was different. There were those in town who would whisper as she passed, others with courage would openly scorn her but most would simply turn away as though she were never there. That is till one day when the world opened up to her, her secrets were exposed and she performed magic; she called forth a maiden from the sea.

When he was younger he had never noticed the obvious, how all the mams on the island were the
Arielle Walker
I think I can best explain my feelings towards this book in terms of what it wasn't quite.

For example:
The writing was lovely, but not quite beautiful.
The story was interesting, but not quite captivating.
The story was different, but not quite unique*.
The multiple points of view didn't quite work as well as it should have.

The word 'quite" is starting to look a little odd to me, so I'll stop using it.

A couple of little technical points really grated on me as a reader, petty though they may be. F
I have a million books to read (exaggerated but probably not far off) and yet the other day, I couldn't pick one of them - nothing was jumping out. I wanted to read about the ocean but it had to be magical. It needed to be witchy but not precious or twee. There was nothing that I owned remotely like this and just after I had given up, I stumbled upon a book recommendation for Sea Hearts (as The Brides of Rollrock Island is called here in Australia).

Too good to be true, surely. It sounded like e
Oh my gahhhd. This book is incredible! I started it and finished it within a 24 hour period, so it's hard to believe that it has sent me into full-fledged post-book depression. As I laid face-down on the couch, despondent, Peter asked me, "Book depression, huh? Maybe if you talk about it it'll help. What was the book about?" I rolled over on my side and waved an arm vaguely in front of me. "It was, like, fantasy? Only.... only..." and gave up trying. I had to fall asleep and wake up again before ...more
This book very much crept up on me. I picked it up to finish off my Aust Women Writers quota and because I’m trying to read some of Australia’s preeminent speculative fiction writers. I thought I was reading a lovely YA fairytale, an olde worlde tale of witches and selkies, and I was enjoying it well enough though it wasn’t leaving any great impression on me.

That was until I got to the story of Bet Winch and realised I was actually reading an evisceration of the ways men and women treat one ano
Katie Herring
I really liked this novel's idea: a town of women who are from the sea... brought to land by a witch.

But unfortunately, the author, I believe, did not do a good job explaining the plot. Usually I am a huge fan of multiple character POVs in a book, but in this one, it was way too confusing. It was the present, the past, the future, the past, the future, the present, and back again. I was very lost at times. I also didn't know who was speaking, yes, the name was said in the beginning, but I had n
This novel is breathtaking. Lanagan's prose is gorgeous and lush and evocative. So articulate and lovely, the novel flows smoothly and seductively through its writing and dark atmosphere. But this novel is not for everyone. Not only does it move slowly, but some themes might not sit well with some and others might not like how frank and raw the novel is, but I strongly recommend this one for YA readers looking for an intelligent, heart-felt read with real substance and that actually contributes ...more
Kerri Turner
I love nothing more than coming across a book with an interesting idea, that actually manages to live up to that idea. I thought this book did that in spades.

The concept, although reminding me strongly of Stepford Wives, was made unique by the almost fairytale-like aspects to it. And the way it was told left me constantly wanting to know what happened next - which is why I flew through reading this in about three days. The way it is written is just beautiful too; descriptive, without being heavy
I think I would like to stay in this world almost forever.

This book isn't as difficult or challenging, emotionally, as Tender Morsels--or in structure, either. But it is engrossing and rewarding, and for all its "lyrical"ness, moves quickly without obfuscating. Each narrator in turn endeared him- or herself to me, so that I hated to leave each one behind, but quickly got caught up in the new one.

One thing that puzzles me, that I'd have to pay attention to on a reread: I had thought the book was
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Margo Lanagan, born in Waratah, New South Wales, is an Australian writer of short stories and young adult fiction.

Many of her books, including YA fiction, were only published in Australia. Recently, several of her books have attracted worldwide attention. Her short story collection Black Juice won two World Fantasy Awards. It was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and the United Kingdom b
More about Margo Lanagan...

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“How different other families were, the shape of them, the things they presumed, the children that grew up in them.” 13 likes
“I felt freed to please myself, to find my way as I would, in a world that was much vaster than I had realized before, in which I was but one star-gleam, one wavelet, among multitudes. My happiness mattered not a whit more than the next person's - or the next fish's, or the next grass-blade's! - and not a whit less.” 11 likes
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