The Brides of Rollrock Island

by Margo Lanagan

As a child, Misskaella is an awkward outsider in the village of Potshead on Rollrock... read more

As a child, Misskaella is an awkward outsider in the village of Potshead on Rollrock Island. She discovers she has the magic to draw the human life force from the seals that congregate on the shore. The beautiful selkie women that emerge from the sealskins are irresistible to human men, and calling them out becomes adult Misskaella’s revenge for years of being shunned and ignored. The men on the island begin abandoning their wives for these breathtaking, sensual beings who are innocent of any wrongdoing—they know nothing of human ways or morals. Readers experience the weariness and bitterness and longing of Misskaella; then the absolute betrayal of an island woman whose husband and adult son take these new lovers; then the absolute desire of one of the young men—unfettered by any sense of wrongdoing because the attraction is all-consuming. Then there is the longing of the seal women, who are now raising their sons as humans on the island. They love their husbands and children, and are loved by them in return, but find it harder and harder to be separate from their sealskins and the ocean and the daughters they had to return to the sea as newborns so they wouldn’t die. Finally, there are the sons of the seal mothers, and one in particular who realizes he has to help his mother, and all the others, return to the sea because they are suffering. With each shift in point of view, author Margo Lanagan explores another dimension of desire and pain and love and longing. Her exquisitely told, mesmerizing story engages all the senses while seamlessly weaving together the fey and human worlds. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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