Michelle's Reviews > The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
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's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: australian, 2012, favorites, review-copy, young-adult
Read from February 02 to 06, 2012


4.5 stars

Margo Lanagan’s most recent novel is an evocative and haunting tale involving selkies, expanded from her World Fantasy Award winning novella, Sea Hearts.

Spanning multiple generations and encompassing multiple viewpoints, the novel chronicles the fate of the small community of Rollrock Island. A lonely young girl discovers her ability to summon forth bewitchingly beautiful women from the bodies of seals. Yet her true price for this service may well be revenge. What at first seems like a blessing slowly tears the community apart as human women find they can’t live up to the selkie wives and men find they cannot resist them. But what of the sea wives themselves? And what of their children?

This mesmerizing story blurs the lines between sympathetic character and monster and culminates in a perfect, yet bittersweet ending that will resonate with you long after you finish reading. Sea Hearts manages to be dark and disturbing without ever being graphic. Lanagan depicts the horror in the consequences of human choices rather than in blood or violence. As with all Lanagan’s work, the prose is complex and beautiful.

Anyone who has ever read a Lanagan novel or story soon learns that regardless of whether it is written for adults, teens or both, they should be prepared for an unsettling experience. Mesmerising and well written her books are, light reading they are not. Due to the darker themes, the prose, and the contemplative and more literary nature of the narrative itself, Sea Hearts will probably appeal to an adult and select young adult audience rather than younger teens or those looking for the next Twilight or Hunger Games style bestseller.

It may also be a good place to start reading Margo Lanagan’s work for those who aren’t sure they can stomach the more confronting sexual and physical violence of her previous young adult novel, Tender Morsels. All in all, I strongly recommend Sea Hearts/Brides as an artistic and story-telling triumph.

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02/02/2012 page 100
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