Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island
Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Page Count: 305
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy

Selkies are fascinating creatures that should have more stories written about them. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not only a well written Selkie driven story, but that it was more literary than I typically expect in the land of young adult novels. 

The novel's structure is one of the things that makes it so appealing. It's more like a series of short stories that ties together to tell the larger story of the inhabitants of Rollrock Island. My favorite segment was the one that detailed the childhood of Misskaella. This sweeping tale is one to be savored. I loved the magic and lore that swirls throughout this one. I will say that because of the literary feel this one did have some slow moments. This is not the sort of novel that you can devour in one sitting.

I loved that Misskaella is the one who drives the story. Powerful women always appeal to me. She also had a bit of a sinister air to her when she is introduced in the first segment. It's always fun when a character is a combination of both good and evil. I liked the layer of darkness that seemed to hover around the edges of this one.

I also like the concept of wishes that runs through this one. It reminds me that not everything we wish for is good for us.

I highly recommend this one if you're interested in Selkies or are looking for a story with a complex narrative structure. The characters, setting, and implications about human nature are well worth the time.

One Last Gripe: I wish that I had waited to read this one until I was craving literary. There are moments when I just crave fun, light reads. This week I needed those. I do plan to reread this one so I can experience it when I am in the mood for literary and don't have a review slot hanging over my head. I ended up reading way faster than I would have preferred.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The Selkie lore

First Sentence: "The old witch is there," said Raditch, peering over the top to Six-Mile Beach.

Favorite Character: Misskaella

Least Favorite Character: I don't have one.

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 his new bride's eyes will transform him just as much as it changes her. Both will be ensnared--and the witch will look on, laughing.

In this magical, seaswept novel, Margo Lanagan tells an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also of unspoken love.


  1. I tried reading one of her books of short stories, and just didn't like it. I'm not a big short story fan -- I need more detail and closure. But this one sounds like I might like it. Thanks! Great review.

    1. This was my first experience with Lanagan, but I enjoyed it. I think this one might be a good fit since everything fits together even though the different perspectives make it feel like short stories strung together.


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