This book explores an aspect of human relationships that I'd rather not delve into, the hunger a man can feel for a compliant, nubile girl. The seal-brides of Rollrock are chillingly childlike in their lack of agency, passive and plaintive and wishing for the sea. The writing is beautiful, chronicling each fissure in the bleak little village. Magic as horror, a legacy of heartbreak and otherness in the bloodlines of the village.
I had to force myself to finish this book, but I am glad that I did. Lanagan doesn't flinch from the horror of her seal-brides, the petty selfishness of enthrallment and love, but it is just that longevity that carries things through to the next generation. Those sons that grow up under the shadow of their sad mothers, the daughters lost to the sea. I could not figure out if Lanagan gives her mythology a loose genetics, where seal mothers impart wildness to their daughters with their X chromosome but the fathers' Y keeps their sons anchored to the shore, or if it is the jealous witch that casts all daughters to the ocean, ensuring that each new generation of sons would visit her to buy a bride.
Full review to follow.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, forced marriage and sex.