Caitlin's Reviews > The Salt God's Daughter

The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby
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's review
Aug 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012

I've been very fortunate over the past several weeks to read a number of wonderful books that take folk tales, fairy tales, mythology as their heart. The Salt God's Daughter is one of those books. Ruby's story, based on the Celtic tradition of the selkie - uncanny creatures who appear as seals on the sea, but can shed their skins and walk when on land. Traditional tales of the selkie often lead to tragedy as a selkie and human fall in love (or not) and make a life together. It's the "making a life together" element that's tricky since often this part happens because the human partner steals and hides the selkie's skin so s/he cannot go back to the sea. I know you're thinking of The Little Mermaid (the Disney version). Stop. This folklore is a lot more complex and dark than anything anyone from Disney ever conjured.

The Salt God's Daughter is also about mother/daughter relationships. As a daughter I know how conflicted and complex these relationships are. Ruby weaves a tale of mothers and daughters and their bonds. Rich in imagery of the sea and of the moon, The Salt God's Daughter is a great follow-up to Ruby's first novel, The Language of Trees. Ruby has a talent for threading disparate parts of story into a coherent whole and I am glad to say that her sophomore effort is just as wise and wonderful as her first. Highly recommended.
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