Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island

Title: The Brides of Rollrock Island
Author: Margo Lanagan
Teen Reviewer: Shannon Finney
Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan is a fantasy novel told from the perspective of several different residents of the enchanted island where the story takes place. Rollrock Island has a strange variety of inhabitants, including ‘mermaids,’ who are women that are transformed from the seals that breed at the shore, and the men that are held captive by their mystical beauty. The woman responsible for all the magic that takes place is Misskaela Prout the witch, who was tormented all her life because of her hideous appearance. She learns the secret of luring the sea-maid out of a seal, and soon figures out how to make her living off of the ruin of the men who succumb to their exotic charms. Throughout the course of the novel, the reader witnesses the island transform from a traditional, Irish fishing community into a place that is full of despair, depression, and debt. 

Lanagan’s writing is beautiful and poetic, and full of breathtaking imagery. I was very much engaged by the story, and could picture myself there on the island as I read. The story is told from several perspectives; from different residents of the island that seem to be unrelated, at first. One thing that may be confusing to some readers is this changing point of view, but that all gets cleared up by the end of the novel. In fact, this unique way of telling the story contributes to the depth of the novel, as the narrators come from different generations. This allows the reader to study the island, (that becomes a character in of itself,) as it slowly changes under the witch’s spell. 

Overall, I fully enjoyed The Brides of Rollrock Island, a beautifully written novel with excellent character development and a unique, enchanting story-line. As someone who doesn’t normally like fantasy novels, I found Margo Lanagan’s tale of magic, transformation, and despair to be an exciting read that I couldn’t put down.

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