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Posted December 21, 2012
Wonderfully vivid, delicate and harsh... let Lanagan's writing lure you into the sea
As soon as I closed the book, all I could think of was, "Good God - did the author's parents force-feed her poetry book after poetry book?" When I was engrossed in the short stories (Yes, it's a collection of short stories. I was surprised too.), it felt like I was actually on the ethereal island, commiserating and celebrating with the characters of the novel. When they felt, I felt more, and there could possibly be no greater anguish than the fact that what these characters shared with the readers, they couldn't - and didn't! - share with the inhabitants of Rollrock Island.
When I first spotted this on GoodReads, I jabbed a finger at my computer screen and boldly proclaimed, "Now that is a book that could take me away for a while." And I was right. (I'm rarely right, as attested by the fact that a lot of the books that have low ratings on this site are mostly mine.) The Brides of Rollrock Island did not just take me away; The imagery was wonderfully vivid, the words were delicate and harsh at the same time, and the storyline was both refreshing and sensual.
"We passed between the Heads, the rocks piled like messy gateposts either side of us, the swell making the ship restless. The sun came out like a cheer, and the water was the loveliest color, bright blue-green, and the foam curled like cream on some of the waves. The Heads fell behind, and there was nothing but sky and sea ahead of us, and each one's weather. The towns and farms and all their fuss and clutter of memories, I was shrugging them off like a heavy cloak, and sailing free." (278)
It is here we meet our characters, most of whom Lanagan does not spare in fleshing out, like the crafty storyteller that she is. Lanagan's characters are very real, very much alive, and I couldn't help but be swayed by the emotions and the inner turmoil her characters face. It did not matter whether the protagonist was selkie or human or witch, the honest words that come pouring out of their mouth will ring true in any reader's heart.
"Yes, but only because... Down there, you see, I did not care and I did not feel. Whereas here-" I laid my head on my arms; he would only have been able to see the rounded-over back of me beyond the table now. "Here it is all feeling and caring, and it makes me so tired." (271)
If Lanagan's selkies can lure the men, her hauntingly decadent writing can very well lure me into the sea. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races will undoubtedly want to pick up this book.
- Michelle of The Twins Read
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Posted February 18, 2013
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