17 September 2012

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island

Publication date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
This book was provided to me by Knopf/Random House for review.
On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings—and to catch their wives. The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.

This. Book. Is. Gorgeous. Seriously, guys. I don't want to insult other YA books because it's not my intention, but The Brides of Rollrock Island is purely literary and extremely thematic. It can be a difficult read; I admit to struggling at times with the language and prose and having to reread passages again just to make sure I understood it. This isn't a book one speeds through because you'll want to take your time and experience everything.

Lanagan takes folklore of the selkies and writes a new legend with this book. I have never read anything like it. The story is told through the voices of a chosen few who live on Rollrock Island. Each and every one of the characters is so distinct and they all have faults; you'll find no Mary Sue inside. I love that sometimes while reading, I'd feel sympathetic for a character and then on the next page I'd do a one-eighty and think "nevermind, you're a jerk and I hate you and I don't feel sorry for you and you make horrible choices and did I mention you're a jerk?" And then later I'd do another one-eighty and think "I am so sorry I called you a jerk and I guess I can forgive you for what you did as long as you don't do it again and I hope you learned your lesson." There are some non-sympathetic characters in this, yo.

The difficulty of the language and the themes of the story could be a hindrance and go over some heads. I say could be, because it really all depends on the reader.

And a warning for those who care, there are quite a few sexual situations, but it's not the gratuitous kind and I, personally, feel it fits with the storytelling.


  1. I honestly did not enjoy it and DNF-ed it. My problem was the changing POVs without really me figuring out and also the difficult language. I read for enjoyment, so when i am having a hard time with a book i tend to DNF it.

    still, glad you loved it so much!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. @Juhina- I really struggled with the beginning as I got used to the language and style that's very specific to the book. I'm with you on reading for enjoyment. I've never been one to finish a book once I start it, but I always read to at least page 50 which is what I did here. I still sometimes had a hard time with the language, but I was sucked into the story and so fascinated at that point that I had to know how it was going to end. This is such a different type of book that it's so hard for me to decide who I would recommend this to!


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