Book Review – Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Sea HeartsSea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miskaela grew up on Rollrock Island, scorned by the other children and adults for her differences, her magic. When she discovered she could draw beautiful and desirable maidens from the seals, and the men of Rollrock Island would pay handsomely for a sea bride (or mistress), she was more than willing to do so, for a suitable price.

As a result, all the Rollrock Island men end up with sea wives or mistresses, keeping them on land by locking up their seal coats. These sea wives bear their children while all the non sea wives leave the island, and its men, en masse. As they grow up, many of the children realise their mams are unhappy and slowly come to understand their mams can never be happy on land. This leaves them faced with the choice of keeping their unhappy mams on land or freeing them, and losing them forever to the oceans.

Told through the eyes of several narrators, Sea Hearts is a Grimm style fairy tale, where you always need to be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.

I picked up Sea Hearts after hearing about it from two Australian podcasts – Galactic Suburbia and The Writer & The Critic. I’m glad I did, it’s well written and kept me engaged throughout. However it’s a bit of a depressing story, and having read it once, I’m unlikely to do so again.

My advice – read it if you have the emotional buoyancy and/or coping skills, otherwise give this one a miss.

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