For two weeks, come celebrate mermaids, whether it’s winter or summer where you live. Splash into Summer runs from June 28th to July 12th. There will be author interviews, guest posts, giveaways, reviews, and more! Now is the time to celebrate mermaids, especially with so many new novels about them coming out.
When I first purchased SELKIE GIRL by Laurie Brooks (whose brother is famous author Terry Brooks), I had no expectations. Heck, I didn’t even know she was related to Terry until I read the Acknowledgments. Writing blood runs in this family, bookworms. I would take a chance on another sibling (if one exists) should s/he publish something.
Despite the covers (both hardcover and paperback), SELKIE GIRL is a much darker book than you might expect. Don’t go into this one looking for a story wrapped up in Disney-style Happily Ever After paper. You won’t be getting a perfect story. A lot of you commented on my LOST VOICES review stating that the book sounded darker than you were expecting. Expect much of the same here, only more brutal. SELKIE GIRL begins in long-ago Scotland, where baby seals are annually culled in order to keep the population low. Elin Jean, our heroine, is a girl frowned upon from birth. She is often called Selkie Girl and has unusual webbing that her fither (father) will cut back to hide. She finds out that there’s truth behind what everyone has always called her upon discovering her mither’s (mother’s) seal coat. She realizes that her mither is a Selkie, stolen out of the water by her fither. Elin Jean herself is half. Upon making this startling realization, she follows her mother into the sea and becomes a Selkie, hoping she’ll belong in the water as she never did on land. She leaves behind her fither, her grandfather, and the gypsy book she was starting to develop feelings for, hurt by everyone’s lies and betrayals.
Once in water, the book really takes off. Selkies are animalistic and brutal. Elin Jean learns that she can only become human once a year and must learn to adapt beneath the water. Her environment is once again hostile; she maintains her fingers and is seen as not “one of the selkies.” She is often shunned. On top of that, as a wild creature, she must fend herself when it comes to food, territory, and survival. Being a selkie isn’t what she thought it would be. She misses being on land despite her newfound abilities. The selkies have foretold that a girl such as Elin Jean would enter their midst and make sweeping changes that revolutionize the way they interact with humans. While not sure they mean her, Elin Jean goes through her Solus Year in search of the knowin’ and finding her true path in life.
SELKIE GIRL is both sad and touching, full of life and death. The environment feels natural, the type of habitat that would exist for selkies if they truly lived in our world. I loved the lore Brooks wove into her novel, as well as the new additions. The book also explores the concept of belonging, a topic that will resonate with many readers looking to find their own way in life.
I picked up SELKIE GIRL expecting an underwater world I could delve into based on the paperback cover. I like that on first glance, the girl could be a selkie or mermaid or some underwater creature, but upon close inspection, she’s just a normal human girl with her legs pulled together. I love the original hardcover edition, too (pictured at the right). I always enjoy illustrated covers. At the same time, the original cover screams MERMAID at me. Looking closely, her tail is thicker and more like a seals, but when I think of a selkie, I don’t think of a half-human with a tail. That description belongs to a mermaid. A selkie is a seal that can remove its skin and become human. The illustrated cover also reminds me of a middle-grade novel, more like EMILY WINDSNAP by Liz Kessler in tone. The actual book is definitely teen or older, though, and doesn’t suit a younger audience as well.