Thursday, December 23, 2010

Selkie Girl

Selkie Girl
by Laurie Brooks

Elin Jean has always known she was different from the others on their remote island home. She is a gentle soul, and can’t stand the annual tradition of killing seal babies to thin the population. Even Tam McCodron, the gypsy boy to whom she is strangely drawn, seems to belong more than she does.

It’s just a matter of time until Elin Jean discovers the secret of her past: her mother, Margaret, is a selkie, held captive by her smitten father, who has kept Margaret’s precious seal pelt hostage for 16 years. Soon Elin Jean faces a choice about whether to free her mother from her island prison. And, as the child of this unusual union, she must make another decision. Part land, part sea, she must explore both worlds and dig deep inside herself to figure out where she belongs, and where her future lies. (description taken from

This a well-written, haunting folk tale based book. I loved the imagery of the selkies shedding their skins, their underwater culture, stories told through song...I was so sad at the descriptions of the culling, a brutal practice.

What struck me the most every time I picked this book up, though, was how awful this cover choice was for this particular story. The art team that created this cover obviously had no inkling of what the story was about... it literally made me cringe every time I looked at it. A. There are NO mermaids in this story. B. The coloring, wavy lines, etc. makes it look like a frothy fantasy...ummm. No.

Thankfully, they redid the cover for the paperback and now, though still not fantastic it is a much, MUCH better fit! The darker tones are much more fitting to the somberness of the story (it really reminds me of the moody feel that I always got from "The Secret of Roan Inish") and the girl suspended in the water perfectly matches a description of Elin Jean in the book.

A much better choice!

I highly recommend this book. It's very similar to Donna Jo Napoli's Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale in tone. It has excellent themes (self-acceptance, love, belonging, morality) and is well told.

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