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The Blue Salt Road

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,151 ratings  ·  207 reviews
An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, "Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn's father,
Far less the land that he staps in.
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature
Hardcover, 215 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Gollancz (first published November 15th 2018)
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Michael Where: Islands off the coast of Scotland. Probably Lewis and Harris, but maybe Shetland or Orkney.

When: 1700s-1800s, maybe.…more
Where: Islands off the coast of Scotland. Probably Lewis and Harris, but maybe Shetland or Orkney.

When: 1700s-1800s, maybe.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,151 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Heidi The Reader
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Blue Salt Road is where the selkies dwell as kings and queens of the deep. When a young woman named Flora needs to find a husband, she despairs of choosing any of the men on the small island where she lives. They're hardened by work on the whaling ships and unrefined.

But when Flora's grandmother teaches her a secret about mysterious beings called the selkies, she knows her search will soon be over.

"In tears he was summoned, salt as the sea,
In silver was his binding. In blood and betrayal, hi
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Child Ballads have been a source of inspiration in several of Joanne Harris’s books and Blue Salt Road is one of them. It’s a magical, fantasy fairytale of a Selkie (the seal folk) and the land folk which is woven into a stunning tale of love, treachery and the lure of the ocean.

A young man of the Selkie is intrigued by The Folk and so he sheds his seal skin and goes ashore becoming bolder and bolder in his wanderings. In his arrogant curiosity he fails to heed his mother’s warnings. Flora
Chris Nickson
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The line between song and myth is porous, and the Child Ballads have been fertile ground for Joanna M. Harris lately. “The Brown Girl” inspired A Pocketful of Crows, and now “The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry” offers the starting point for The Blue Salt Road. Harris understand storytelling and the power of the tradition of folk tales, but, like all the best artists, she makes it her own in this rich tale. She takes you there, to the wide strand by the ocean, the poor village, the whaling ships, an ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Welp, I ate that up. And you say Joanne Harris has written other fantasy/folk books? Lovely. I'll read all of them. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
You'd think I'd be sick of selkie stories and retold fairytales by now – but just when I think no retelling could surprise me, along comes Joanne Harris. I loved this. ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
* I read this as the Ancient Runes read for the OWLs readathon*

I have to admit that retellings and stories based on folk tales are not my usual pick, but this one was sent to me and it had such beautiful illustrations that I couldn't resist it. The story is a simple one of a love and betrayal, selkies and people of the sea, the Folk and their cunning and more. It's the story that you've probably already imagined, nothing new, but it's beautifully told and has dreamy illustrations to accompany it
Kayleigh Kehoe ♡
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it

"And thou shalt marry a gunnerman proud,
And a very proud gunner I'm sure he'll be,
And the very first shot that e'er he shoots,
He'll kill both my young son and me."

Our story begins with a young selkie, a seal that can shed his skin and walk on land as a man. This selkie loves the tantalising taste of danger and walking so close to the Folk on land, who have been slaughtering his clan for years. A passionate love aff
Kelly Van Damme
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning, inside and out. A dark retelling of selkie lore, The Blue Salt Road made me smile and teary-eyed in equal measure. Highly recommended.
Coral Davies
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
So I really wanted to like this - I enjoy myths/modern myths and this dinky book is so terribly beautiful, a lovely binding littered with charming illustrations. However, it all felt a little preachy and I didn't enjoy the way it portrayed women as scheming, selfish creatures and men as the wayward sex whom hold no responsibility for their actions. I wasn't sure about the message the author was trying to get across and I didn't like a single character in the tale.

For me this was a pretty book t
The Blue Salt Road is a fantastic folktale written by Joanne M Harris and beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. It's the kind of book to pick up on a blustery autumn day when you're tucked up somewhere nice and warm in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and a few free hours to spend reading - you'll definitely want to finish it in one sitting!

If you're familiar with selkie folktales you'll already know that they can remove their skin and walk on land as humans but that if som
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Joanne M. Harris ' The Blue Salt Road is the story of family, love, betrayal and new chances. It draws from Selkie legends and is set in the arctic waters north of Scotland. A selkie of the Grey Seal Clan falls in love with a young red-headed woman of the island folk. After a while, he wants to leave for warmer waters with winter coming, she wants him to stay and be a father and provider to her child and his. Love becomes betrayal, and both young people must find their true selves in its afterma ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Yay for fairy tales with nuance and grey characters and no clear line between good and evil. Mistakes are made by everyone. Everyone can be punished or forgiven for those mistakes.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise, I found this book at the library and only picked it up because it was shorts and looked like an easy read.
A book of deceit, betrayal, and misplaced love. I found this story to be quite good considering its topic following a selkie, which I had no idea what it was, and wouldn't typically be the kind of book I would read. That is the beauty of just grabbing a book at the library without researching it first sometimes you'll find a gem in a book that typically you would
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I started reading Joanne M. Harris’ tales of Norse mythology, I have acquired an insatiable appetite for more. I can’t seem to get enough of her work with myths, lore and folk tales. When I saw that JMH was approaching the mythos of sea in The Blue Salt Road, I had to give it a go. In 8 short volumes (read this in one sitting) Harris delves into the lore behind the Selkie. They are mythical Seals who can shed their sealskins and take on a human form (Therianthropy) which allows them t ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Hmm. The writing is lovely. And yet... I liked Blue Salt Road, but at the same time I had little to none emotional attachment to the story or the characters. And I vaguely remember the same thing happening with A Pocketful of Crows. I have no idea why, which is completely unhelpful. Oh well.
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Based on how much I like myths and the fact that I enjoyed Harris’ previous novels, I thought I would love this little fairytale of a book featuring the Silkies (sea creatures that can shed their skins to live among humans). The author successfully manages to create fascinating imagery through her skillful use of language, however the characters lacked depth and warmth, moreover the moralistic tone towards the end rubbed me the wrong way. Not the author’s best work IMO. 2.5 stars
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is about a selkie. Stories about skelties are always a bit sad. Same for this one. The stories I have read were about female selkies, so it was a nice change to now have the point of view from a male selkie. What I liked about the blue salt road was the writing. It's just hte kind of writing you expect and like for a fairytale. Especially the prologue was beautiful. There it's described how sound is a story. I thought that was beautiful. This story is nothing new, but the prose is good ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
The selkie folk live in the seas off a far northern island. The people are wild and passionate and told to be wary of those that live on the land. But one young selkie transforms into a human each night to explore the area and he falls in love with a human woman he meets on the shore. The woman hides his sealskin so he can't return to his own folk and traps him into marriage. This is a retelling of old legends about selkies and the women who take them for husbands. It's wonderfully written and t ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s so nice that Joanne Harris has written these retellings of folklore tales!

‘The Blue Salt Road’ is about the selkie, those creatures that live as seals and then can shed their skins to become humans.

This is a tale of love, family, the sea, and how humans always try to meddle with nature and its creatures.

Very enjoyable!
This reads like a classic fairy tale. A seal creature visits the land as a man, meets a girl, gets her pregnant, she erases his memory and forces him to marry her. I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Once the main character knew something was up and tried to become his old self again, I kind of lost interest.
Angela Magic Art
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stunning cover! Loved This book. It’s such a wonderful fairy tale, and it was so captivating and fast paced. I was swept up in the tale, what a good read! I will for sure be reading more from this author.
Nicole (Half Wild Books)
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: uni-books
Read in one sitting. This is the first time I've read a book from a selkies POV and it provided a new perspective on this traditional folklore tale ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
You may have noticed a recent trend of books of myths and legends retold for a modern audience. For example, there’s Neil Gaiman’s Norse Tales, treading similar ground to Joanne’s version of the Asgard-ian myths. I can also think of Stephen Fry’s Mythos, retelling of the Greek myths and Anthony Horowitz’s Legends series which cherry-picked myths for a young adult readership.

There are also those stories that seem to echo old-school fairy stories but in a grown-up setting. The obvious example is t
Dumpy Unicorn
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love these adaptations of the Child Ballads. This one was exquisite and I long for more.
Kirsty Cabot
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2020, fantasy
A story of the Selkie and the Folk. Really evocative. The illustrations are haunting and ethereal.
Oct 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy
Best cover artwork I've seen in fantasy in awhile. As a matter of fact, the last few books by Joanne Harris have all had beautiful covers. Glad to see this latest release is done in the same style as A Pocketful of Crows.

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne Harris A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris

The Gospel of Loki (Loki, #1) by Joanne Harris The Testament of Loki (Loki, #2) by Joanne Harris
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect modern look at an old folk tale you want to read on a winter evening

‪full review The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M Harris (Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins)
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea, and with the mythology that surrounds it - sirens, mermaids, selkies - as the ocean seems to be a magical place that begets myth only rivalled by the depths of the world’s forests. Many of our ancestral forests have long since been tamed by man, but the ocean remains a place of mystery, danger, and secrets that even in modernized mythology holds its own in realism. This short novel explores a story of the selkies, the race of magical seal-people who li ...more
It is only in the past year that I have discovered Joanne M. Harris after encountering one of their short stories in Stories. Since then I have fallen in love with their lyrical writing, vibrant storytelling, and big soul found in their works. The brief tale of The Blue Salt Road deliveries all of these.

Spinning the story out of Child's Ballads - Volume II's 'The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry' Harris captures of ballad, with a rhythm behind the writing pulling readers onward through the story. The
Ah, what an absolute delight this book was! I read A Pocketful of Crows a few months ago, and then again at the end of the year, and absolutely loved it both times. I was shocked to see a new book had come out with my knowing, so I immediately rushed to buy it, and I must say I'm not disappointed!

Alright, I shall first admit that when I started it, I was a bit cold about it. At first sight, it felt very, very similar to A Pocketful of Crows, and I thought I would soon become bored because both s
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