Sealskin – Su Bristow – Review and blog tour
When I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Sealskin and given a description of the book I accepted with alacrity as the description made me feel this book is something a little different.
What I expected was a grown up fairytale. What I got was an absolutely enchanting and captivating, tear at your heart, love story with the twist that it’s based on a legend and the bonus that it is completely and utterly believable.
I’ll NEVER look at seals in quite the same light again. This book has made me believe in Selkies and I will be wistfully scanning the shore for a glimpse of one of these rare enchanting creatures.
The story begins simply, its set in Scotland in an indeterminate era of the past when myth and superstition feature strongly in everyday working folks lives. This is a community of fisherfolk and young Donald is slightly apart from the crowd he is a bit of a loner, a man of few words, struggles to fit in and find his place in this close knit society.
Until one day, wandering along his beloved sea shore, he sees something he can’t quite comprehend – he is witnessing the transformation of Selkies from seal to human and he watches with awe, bewitched by the mysterious creatures. Completely overcome with emotions he has never before experienced he acts out of character, committing a sudden and brutal act, which is to have massive repercussions which alter his life.
What he does after molesting her is the cruellest move of all. Hiding her sealskin means she can never return to her own folk and it is this act which shapes everyones futures.
This is a coming of age with a difference. A love story with no parallels. Magic that transcends time and place.
Mhairi is the metamorphosed Selkie who transfixes the gauche and bumbling young lad and through his determination to put right his momentary transgression, with the support of his Mother, he takes her into his home where Mhairi is soon to become his wife.
Unable to speak in human tongue, understandably she is seen as slightly “touched” thus people find her strange, and it’s difficult for her to be accepted. It’s vital that Donald protects her real identity and in his new role as protector he uncovers new depths to his own character. The young man who began the story in an unlikeable way begins to grow into a character of astounding hidden depths.
Whist Mhairi is just Mhairi and gradually her Selkie charm begins to bewitch folk into either accepting or fearing her. That she enchanted me is therefore hardly surprising.
It is the utter beauty of the prose which truly captivated me. The wonderful characters, both loveable, hateful and just downright difficult to understand. The stunning, remote location and innate sense of past all combined to bewitch and mesmerise me from beginning to end.
This is a novel about human failings and frailities, prejudices regarding those who are different, how a momentary decision can have life altering consequences and about feelings and love and regret.
That I wept, is no secret, that I squawked aloud at one point nearing the end when a past misdemeanour is revealed, is a given. I wasn’t expecting a gasp out loud OMG moment in this book but I got one!
I am going to remember this book for a very long time. The impression it’s made on me and the deep enchantment I felt when reading it have left a splinter in my heart which is going to remain with me.
Completely enthralling, filled with allure, this wonderful book is a MUST read for anyone who like me, loves the work of Eowyn Ivey (Snow child) Ali Shaw (the Girl with glass feet) – Oh blow the comparisons, this is a book everyone should read whatever their genre preferences as it transcends literary comparison by its inimitable uniqueness.
The blurb and publicity
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.
‘Achingly beautiful … brings psychological depth and great warmth with not a word too many or a word too few. I absolutely loved it’ - Gill Paul, author of The Secret Wife
The Author - Su Bristow
To discover about the author read more about her here at her publishers website and whilst you're there why not explore and spend some time drooling over their amazing repertoire of books.