September 6, 2012

The Brides of Rollrock Island - Margo Lanagan

Young Adult
Pages: 320
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 11, 2012

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.

This is one of the most uniquely woven and bizarre novels I have ever read. Wonderful in its unusualness, stunning and breathtaking prose come together with one of the most imaginative stories I've encountered. I never felt a sense of where the story was going, I kept being undecided on whether I was enjoying it, specifically during the first half (Miskaella), but it ended up entrapping me in the magic and its fairytale-like atmosphere. I absolutely LOVED it. It was my first Lanagan book and now I understand.

The story is told in only 7 chapters, each one narrated by a new character (with one exception), and takes place along three generations. This was an interesting choice, and made me feel like it was less of a Young Adult book leaning more towards adult. It definitely doesn't fit the YA bill we're used to. The story is dense and darkish, and it gave me a sinking feeling at several points. But this has to be by far one of the most vivid books I've ever experienced. I can picture all the crazy stuff and the seal-wives and the gloomy island and basically every aspect of it. The creativity and execution blew me away.

Yet another YA writer who revels in language. There are writers who are good at writing and then there's certain others that are good at the art of language. Fantasy has never felt more alive than in this book, so I recommend this to any fantasy lover that is willing to experience one of the thickest, lushest and richest stories in YA lit.

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