About the Book
What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous …and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.
Donald is very much a loner until he sees Mairhi on the beach. He is fixated, not only is she beautiful she is also a selkie. After he has made it impossible for her to return to the sea he takes her to his home and his mother tells him what needs to be done. From that moment, his life changes completely.
I absolutely adored this novel. I didn’t get into it immediately but from the moment they met the priest I was hooked. The way everything was described – a community full of hard working fishermen and their mainly strong women living in a remote area at the mercy of the weather. Most of whom she touched, including this reader, she entranced. By her simplicity, faith and innocence she gave courage to the ones that needed it and humility to the rest. The ones who were not as nice were terrified by the images that Mairhi could reveal and how that contributed to making that person realise what they were and what they had to lose. Donald was the main beneficiary. I felt that she forgave him and she helped him change from an object of ridicule into a person to look up to.
The story, combined with the setting and having no sense of when it was set in time made for an unforgettable and mesmerising read that had me lost for words when I finished. A gorgeous, heartbreaking book, the only thing missing was a soundtrack to listen to as I read.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and for the chance to participate in the blog tour. You can also see a review at damppebbles where one of my favourite bloggers Emma has a guest post.