Sealskin is this month’s Ninja Book Club book. I have both the kindle edition and the audiobook, after careful consideration, I decided to listen to the audiobook.
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.
I did not want this story to end, I absolutely loved it! It started with an awful wrong and blossomed into the most beautiful story. Sealskin is perfect for those who like their plots realistic (as realistic as fantasy can be). Sealskin was inspired by the Scottish Legend of the selkies, and Bristow really did an amazing job giving us a full-length novel based on this myth.
The characters were so full of life, particularly Mairhi – she doesn’t utter a single word throughout the entire novel but her character is so powerful. She has this mysterious and magical aura surrounding her and she is filled with so much kindness, you can’t help but love her. The evolution of the character of Donald was brilliant, while you can never accept or forgive what he did, you can see [or hear] he is fully trying to atone for his sin.
Sealskin conveys that small-town vibe, encompassing strong themes of community and family ties. The description of the Scottish landscape really helped me to visualise the setting of this story, especially how life can be at sea for a fisherman. I can find no fault with this audiobook, except that it had to end; it was fantastic from beginning to end and held my full attention throughout. The characterisation, the setting and the plot itself were fantastic; this novel is clouded in a mythical atmosphere, the way children are entranced by fairies, I was entranced by this book.
Bristow has a lyrical quality to her writing and it makes for highly addictive listening. I must give so much praise to Angus King for his wonderful narration, he really brought this story to life in a way I don’t think I’d have experienced if I’d read it. Mainly because when I did glance at the text, I realised I would have pronounced so many names wrong; also, the changes in the tone of his voice during the narration were perfect and conveyed all the right emotions at the right time. Speeding up and slowing down narration, whispering when necessary, it was perfect and made for a beautiful listening experience. If you’re unfamiliar with Scottish dialect, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook.
I can’t recommend Sealskin enough, it’s definitely an audiobook I will be listening to again!