Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Stranger Came Ashore” as Want to Read:
A Stranger Came Ashore
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Stranger Came Ashore

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
A wild, stormy night . . . A shipwreck . . . The sudden appearance of a stranger . . . That is how it all begins. The stranger is Finn Learson, a young and handsome man who seems to be the only survivor of the wreck. Finn Learson is charming and generous, and the Henderson family gladly give him shelter. Only young Robbie Henderson does not trust Finn Learson and his oddly ...more
Paperback, Harper Trophy Book, 163 pages
Published April 6th 1977 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 1975)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 14, 2013 Wren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had only read the other kind of selkie myth: the beautiful woman who abandons her seal-skin to frolic naked on the shore until some local-yokel snatches it, forcing her to be his slave/bride. I guess that's only the she-selkies. The males apparently lure land-women to the kingdom under the sea. What a sexist myth...

Robbie's Old Da always told stories about the selkie-folk, of the Great Selkie whose palace is roofed with the golden hair of his drowned brides. Old Da soon becomes suspicious of t
Sarah Mayor Cox
Feb 06, 2011 Sarah Mayor Cox rated it it was amazing
First read this book when I was at uni, way back when we were all dancing away to Adam Ant!!! Pam Macintyre (my lecturer extraordinnairre, and the person who reintroduced me to children's and YA lit. as an adult) recommended it to me. It is a selkie tale about a stranger, Finn Larson who comes ashore one stormy night and is taken in by a farming family on Orkney. It is a thriller, as the supernatural forces of the selkies battle with the superstitious people of the Orkneys. Probably my favourite ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Nov 03, 2015 Cynthia Egbert rated it really liked it
I love folklore and all things Scottish so I fell in love with this suspense story. I have requested a number of this author's other works from the library because I appreciated her treatment of the selkie legend and I look forward to experiencing how she handles other myths as well as some historical periods. I recommend this one highly.
Feb 14, 2009 bup rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, 2009
meh. I never got caught up in the magic.
Tania Poole
Dec 21, 2016 Tania Poole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Mollie Hunter's book - they're nice and short and do justice to Scottish folklore. I also have The Walking Stone and The Haunted Mountain in my collection.

This one also involves the Shetland festival 'Up Helly Aa', some that from what I've seen online, is a most fantastic looking festival.

This story is not like Roan Inish - it's not a selkie woman coming ashore and marrying a human only to go home again, this one is far more sinister and more of a danger to humans, so it's a nice change i
Oct 21, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing
Interesting information about a culture I knew nothing about in a really written story. Set on the Shetland islands in the (distant?) past. Quinn and I loved it.
Sep 18, 2016 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insight in to the customs and superstitions of Shetland folk!
Daniel Gamboa
Mar 15, 2015 Daniel Gamboa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is, in fact, as quoted in the back of the book: "a fantastic, gripping tale based on the Scottish legend of the Selkie Folk". Set on the Shetland islands, "A Stranger Came Ashore" was a book that combined everything I like in a story: island life and culture. In addition, the story revolves around the legend of the Great Selkie, and while this is a book written for young readers, I was enthralled from beginning to end by the atmosphere of mystery knitted around it. I learned so much about t ...more
Kate Forsyth
Mollie Hunter is a wonderful Scottish writer for children who is not nearly as well-known as she deserves to be. I have many of her books – some collected when I was a child and some (including a signed first edition) collected as an adult. I first read A Stranger Came Ashore when I was about eleven, after borrowing it from my school library. I’ve been looking for it ever since, but could not remember its name. Then, a month or so ago, I read a brief review of it on an English book blog and at o ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Janet rated it really liked it
MG Mystery for boys involving Scottish myth - the Selkie-folk. Author Hunter did a fine job ratcheting up the tension throughout the story which takes place on the Shetland Islands I'd say at some point in the 1800's during the whaling era. Oil lamps, candles, tinder boxes and peat fires in "but n bens" are referred to in the story. And superstitions abound despite the influence of the Church.

Can Robbie save his fair, golden haired sister Elspeth from the handsome stranger Finn Learson who has w
A Stranger Came Ashore was originally published in 1975 and it surprises me that it never became more of a hit than it has; it has all the right elements - suspense, action, fantasy, and a writing style that reminds me of oral tradition. This book would make a fantastic read-aloud. Robbie lives in the Shetland Islands far to the north, a land of long summer days and dark winters. The place is isolated and the time period, “in those days,” is never specific though there are a few clues given. The ...more
Oct 29, 2014 hareton_fan1 rated it really liked it
I'd have to say I really liked reading this book. I originally picked it up because I saw the word "selkie" and automatically thought about faeries. It looked like an interesting read and it did not disappoint. I kind of sympathize with Robbie. It must be horrible to have a huge weight on your shoulders because no one else seems to be able to see the truth like he does except for maybe one or two people here and there. However, Finn Learson is the kind of a guy you can't help but fall for, so I ...more
Heather Reese
This book is about a community on the island of Black Ness. The protagonist is a young boy named Robbie Henderson who has grown up with his grandfather telling him tall tales of ancient myths. One of these myths is about the Selkies (seals who can take the form of human), and after the mysterious happenings following a big storm Robbie begins to wonder if his grandfather was doing more than telling tall tales.

I thought this book was average. It wasn't super enthralling, and the subject wasn't so
Mar 17, 2015 Jimi rated it really liked it
I read this book in my first year in Secondary school, and it resonated with me almost a much as SE Hinton's 'The Outsiders' and Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' would in the following years. I can still remember being fascinated and terrified by the idea of Kelpies and being motivated to find out more about the creatures and beings of the classic legends and myths of Scotland as a result.

It's been a long time since I read this book, but the fact I still retain any knowledge of it
Kelly Sullivan
Apr 02, 2013 Kelly Sullivan rated it it was amazing
My sixth grade teacher read this book to our class over the course of a few weeks and it has stayed with me ever since-- 33 years later. I shared it with my daughter and have picked it up to read again and again over the years, my paperback copy now tattered with age and use. The story is a great late night read with the storm, the shipwreck, and the stranger with a secret that is masterfully revealed over the course of the story. The book is an absolute treasure.
Laina SpareTime
Dec 30, 2015 Laina SpareTime rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Since this was basically a random book I bought a really long time ago, I wasn't actually expecting that much from it. Choosing books by colour theme, fitting with three other books you have in some way, and random words in the title isn't always the best way to determine quality, apparently. Read the rest on my blog.
Oct 08, 2015 Stephany rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Marvelous myth with perfect pacing. A great book to read aloud to the whole family by the fire, and a must-read if you're planning to visit Shetland and the surrounds. Selkie myths are a big part of the culture and, once there, I could see why: it is magical, and the line between sea and land isn't clear. Humans are so often part of both.
Jul 28, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it
It is always a bit difficult to rate a children's book, because I am not the target audience. This would have been 5-star book for me if I were still in grade school. Upper elementary chapter book. Great tie-in of the different folk customs and a not-too-sweet story. It does have a happy type ending, but not Disney sweet. Excellent.
Anne Hamilton
Aug 01, 2014 Anne Hamilton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2010 Susi rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers and young adults
As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but feel that it would be a great book to read to your children; the chapters are short, the voice is easy to follow and at the heart, it has a great message.

I read this book first when I was at school and I adored it so much I had to buy a copy. I don't think I'll ever willingly part with it :)
Jul 30, 2008 Jennie rated it really liked it
My husband recommended this book for me to read for a class in college. I don't remember all of the details but I do remember that I enjoyed reading it. It was dark at times but very entertaining and interesting to learn about the folk tale of the silkies.
Hm, I don't know how to shelve this one. Gaelic mythology seems a bit TOO obscure ;) It's basically a boys' adventure story, not the sort of book I'd ever read again. Dark creatures from the sea, rural islands, weird traditions... better than two stars but not as good as my usual threes.
Jan 15, 2009 Hilary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very fun read. Simple and cliched, but it had an interesting setting (Shetland Islands of the UK) and did well as an escapist read for adults with lasting imagery, and an easy but interesting read for children who like stories about magic (but not the dragon and castle kind of magic).
May 28, 2009 Sheila rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
The first of my rereads from middle school. It was one of my favorite books back then. The only part I remembered was the beginning where Finn Learson arrives during the storm. I still liked it and thought it was a fun read.
Nov 06, 2014 Iris rated it did not like it
Gosh I remember reading this as an innocent little child and as a child I loved all these weird and wonderful books but this one bored and confused me so much that I've blocked out most of it. Not for me at all.
Sep 03, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual Rating 4.5

What a fun little book! I don't really see selkie stories here in America, but I've always been fascinated by the lore. This story is certainly for a younger audience but I think it can be appreciated by anyone. Glad I picked it up!
Lovely little YA novel, both an excellent introduction to the selkie myth (and one of the few I've read where the selkie is unambiguously evil/amoral) and a glimpse into rural island life in the 18th-19th century.
Jan 22, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: fiction
I read this book when I was about 10 or so and then again when I moved to Shetland in the early 1990s as it was about the Selkie folk who were supposed to come ashore in the Isles. I see there is a new book in a similar vein but I would recommend this one too - Mollie Hunter is a wonderful author!
Rebecca Ferguson
This book is about a child named Robbie who is convinced that a stranger who becomes friends with his family is actually from the Selkie Folk and tries to get help against his powers. (Modern Fantasy)
Derek Henderson
Oct 16, 2015 Derek Henderson rated it it was ok
The author completely destroyed any suspense by making clear from the word go that the stranger was not to be trusted. Very pedestrian prose style.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Selkie Book [s] 3 46 Mar 12, 2012 11:15AM  
  • The Last Mission
  • Journey to Topaz: A Story of the Japanese-American Evacuation
  • The Nargun and the Stars
  • A Stitch In Time
  • The Chalet School in Exile (The Chalet School, #16)
  • The Ghosts
  • The River at Green Knowe (Green Knowe, #3)
  • Daughter of the Sea
  • The Ghost Belonged to Me (Blossom Culp, #1)
  • Reunion (Water, #2)
  • Dawn of Fear
  • Stories to Solve
  • Mirror of Danger (Come Back, Lucy)
  • Incident at Hawk's Hill
  • The Seventh Swan
  • The Three Loves of Persimmon
  • The Stone Mage and the Sea (The Change, #1)
  • The Glass Slipper
Maureen Mollie Hunter McIlwraith writes under the name Mollie Hunter. Mollie Hunter is one of the most popular and influential twentieth-century Scottish writers of fiction for children and young adults. Her work, which includes fantasy, historical fiction, and realism, has been widely praised and has won many awards and honors, such as the Carnegie Medal, the Phoenix Award, a Boston Globe - Horn ...more
More about Mollie Hunter...

Share This Book