The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island

by Margo Lanagan


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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.

Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375873362
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/23/2013
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 645,940
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

MARGO LANAGAN is a highly acclaimed writer of novels, short stories, and poetry and a two-time Printz honor winner. Tender Morsels was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, won the World Fantasy Award for best novel, received five starred reviews and was named a best book of the year by Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book Magazine, Booklist, The Bulletin, and School Library Journal. Ms. Lanagan lives in Sydney, Australia.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly Best of Children's Books 2012

Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012, September 1, 2012:
"I've not been more moved by a book in years...It’s a wistful book, but wondrous. It will break your heart, and remake it.”

Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2012:

"A haunting, masterfully crafted novel that, as one should by now expect from Lanagan, isn’t a bit like anything else."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2012:
"Bracing, powerful, resonant. . . . Earthy, vigorous characters and prose ground the narrative in the world we know, yet its themes are deep as the sea."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 2, 2012:
"Powerful. . . . A beautifully written story featuring a thoroughly realized setting and cast."

Starred Review, The Horn Book, September/October 2012:
"Lanagan’s world is busily, passionately alive. Seal, human, sea, sky, and the rocks themselves animate this powerful story, a blend of folk tale and pungent, sharply observed—or invented—regionality."

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2012:
"Like Lanagan’s previous Tender Morsels, this eerie, evocative story breathes mesmerizing life into familiar fairy-tale constructs as it explores issues of power, agency, culpability, freedom, and love within a deceptively quiet atmosphere of intimate horror."

School Library Journal, September 2012:
"Lanagan’s writing is undeniably gorgeous. Her phrases and pacing almost demand that readers stop and admire their beauty...A natural audience would be readers who enjoyed the literary qualities of Christina Meldrum’s Madapple, Franny Billingsley’s Chime, and E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News."

"I am in thrall to Margo Lanagan's voice. This is a marvelous book, full of magic and cunning." ―Kelly Link, award-winning author of Stranger Things Happen, and founder of Small Beer Press
"Margo Lanagan's writing is dangerously beautiful; it knows how to dance, and it knows how to fight." ―Mal Peet, winner of the Carnegie Medal for Tamar
"A brilliantly written and fascinating novel from the weird but wonderful mind of Margo Lanagan." ―Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Old Kingdom Chronicles
"Breathtaking. Margo Lanagan raises the bar with every story she tells." ―Melina Marchetta, winner of the Printz Award for Jellicoe Road

Customer Reviews

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The Brides of Rollrock Island 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
TheTwinsRead More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book. There is no hard language no explicit sex scenes no sorcery or evil spirits but it is a good book. I am not going to lie and say this is the best book ive ever read but it sure is a better book that ive read. I dont really know how else to discribe it. It does remind me of the scorpio races a little bit but this story is definitly not the scorpio races. It is told from six different points of veiws but it helps the story. It is good. Read it.
peajayar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the Australian/British edition, called Sea Hearts. Seals, through some magic applied by one woman, become women and bear children to the men of Rollrock Island. The boy and girl children have very different fates. There's a lot about how misery breeds meanness and nasty behaviour, and the dangers of creating an outcast.There are several sections to the book, each with a different point of view, and Lanagan carries this off well. She maintains credibility within the story by focussing on the parts that matter and leaving the rest; every detail and reference counts. One of my favourite quotes: "I shook my head again, not in agreement or otherwise at what she said, but only at how, whosoever's pain I thought of, it could not be resolved without paining some else."Lanagan writes from the hard places, doesn't hold back on bleak and dark. Hope and goodness are there too, along with human weakness and meanness of spirit. It's all very human.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Out of all the mythical creatures out there, I think one of the most magical and haunting is the legend of the selkie. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan treats these beautiful, mysterious creatures with the respect deserved. She tells their story with some of the most beautifully painted pictures and heart-breaking scenarios imaginable.Told in several parts, each from a separate point of view (including the "witch" who brings the woman forth from the seal), this is a complex story that begins with a warning dated from some point in history and moves into a present which has failed to learn from its own history. The Brides of Rollrock Island deals with greed, power, lust, pain, heartache, infidelity, and strength. It's not a book to be taken lightly, or picked up with the thought of some mindless amusement for a few hours - but then again, that shouldn't be a surprise considering the author.Margo Lanagan's book Tender Morsels was my first experience. I found it raw and brutal - and in a way, The Brides of Rollrock Island has the same rawness and brutality, but it's more muted. The true horror in this story didn't hit me until I'd closed the book and took several hours to reflect on what I'd finished reading. Much like the selkie women, the story held a fascination for me that kept me in its grip and refused to let go until enough time had passed.I don't know that I'd recommend this to teenagers unless I was convinced of their maturity, as it's not your typical fantasy young adult read. I think this is more for those thoughtful people out there who enjoy being challenged to stretch their reading limits and learning about a culture and its myths which may be drastically different from his or her own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although it’s seen through multiple perspectives, the tone seems almost identical, even when switching between men, women, and children. I think you need to have an obsession with seals or love marine biology to enjoy this book properly.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was interesting and weird all at once.