Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island

  • "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned" - William Congreve
Misskaella lived on a small island featuring a simple village inhabited by fishermen. All of the people were sturdy in form and had curly red hair. Misskaella was the youngest girl in her family and was cruelly teased by all her sisters and the other children of the village. But as it happens she had a special affinity with the seals that inhabited the water and beaches and she could even turn the female seals into human shape. Slim, long-limbed, with sleek black hair, and beautiful, these women became the obsession of all of the men. Misskaella found that, even if she had no chance of marrying, she could make a living by accepting money to create these women. The women of the village found the men no longer desired them so they packed up any children they had and went to the mainland. 

This fascinating story is told by different participants in each chapter so, almost like an anthropological study, we watch how this insular community is transformed by her ability to fulfill the men's fantasies and provide them with these beautiful women. They are unable to have female babies and since all the original women left, Misskaella found herself the last real woman. However, not everything is perfect in paradise.

The language is very lyrical and makes one think of Ireland. "Down to the Crescent I went, to the seals, who were all the one silver under the moon, except for the bull, the king, who lay among his wives like spilled ink, and the babies, like dark droplets thrown off him throughout the herd."

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories featuring mythological creatures. 

My rating for this book:  

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