I cannot believe that this is my first ever blog tour for Orenda Books! How have I not been involved in one before now? Shocking TWG, shocking! Today I am one of two stops on the tour bus for Su Bristow’s – Sealskin, published by Orenda Books. Enjoy!
What happens when magic collides with reality?
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.
What does TWG think?
‘Sealskin’ has been doing the rounds on social media for several months now, piquing my interest every single time I saw its unique book cover. Many times I wondered what it was about, what the skin of a seal had to do with anything; I could have read reviews or the blurb to get an idea first, easier right? Yes, but I didn’t do that, I had to read it with my very own eyes instead of reading someone else’s interpretation of the novel. What I began reading however, was completely different to my initial thoughts. I just had to work out if that was a good thing or not..
‘Sealskin’ is based on the mythological legend of the selkies, a subject I had heard many moons ago, but knew nothing about. Until now. The storyline follows the actions of a fisherman named, Donald. A man who was able to witness the selkie magic but took the magic several steps too far. Donald has to face up to the error of his ways and hope that his stupidity doesn’t damage other people’s lives. Will Donald’s selfish acts ruin a life that has absolutely no say in the matter? Or will the selkie myth shout louder than ever before?
Due to Donald’s actions, I was unfortunately toying between continuing the novel and stopping reading completely. I couldn’t fathom what his actions had to do with anything at all, and I began to feel a little uncomfortable by what he had done. Now, my gut instinct was the latter; give up on the book, however, seeing as the book is a genre I don’t usually read, I continued. ‘Sealskin’ has a storyline that is completely different to anything I have ever read before and it’s genre wouldn’t be something which I would lean towards in a bookshop. Because of that, I am rather a curious person and I like to delve into things if I can; just like Su Bristow’s book.
You know what? I am so pleased that I went with my curiosity and finished reading the book. Why? Because if I had listened to my gut, I would have missed out on the feeling of being surrounded by a magical orb with my soul being lifted out of my body from my shoulders; surrendering to the magic within Su’s unforgettable words.
I learnt A LOT from Su’s book, especially as it opened my eyes to things I would never have stopped to think about before. My mind certainly relished the change in thoughts!
‘Sealskin’ isn’t merely a storyline about fisherman meets selkie and they live happily ever after. It’s not ‘When Harry met Sally. Instead, ‘Sealskin’ is an unmissable tale of learning to adapt in a world of judgemental individuals, learning to cope when everyone is an outsider bound together by just one thing; love.
If I took a step back an analysed the novel including the parts where I felt rather uncomfortable, I probably wouldn’t be able to award this book as many stars as it deserves. However, if I took a step back and analysed it based on the overall concept, Su’s poetic, intense writing and her inspiring way of bringing mythology to the 21st century without losing the magic; I would be awarding this novel with higher stars than the previous option I mentioned.
‘Sealskin’ my friends, is exactly why I am basing my opinion of this dazzling storyline by the latter; the overall concept and Su’s outstanding, modern take on mythology’s sought after legend; the selkies. A lot of people could learn many, many things from this novel, IE not taking things at face value and learning how the best part of a person/life is hidden because it’s the most valuable; their heart.
Thank you Orenda.
About the author.