February 6

Sealskin – Su Bristow

SealskinWhat 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.


My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the chance to be involved in the tour.

Before I read Sealskin I had seen huge amounts of praise being lavished upon it. Much of the focus is on the beautiful writing, the haunting story and the beautiful gentle tale.

I was a bit surprised with how the story began as immediately we encounter a shocking act of violence. It caught me unawares and I wondered where the “gentle” story I had been expecting was going to come from. Well stick with it as things do settle down and the relationship story I had been expecting starts to unfold.

Sealskin is a story based around the myth of the Selkie, a seal can shed its skin to take on human form. In Sealskin we meet Donald, a fisherman living in a remote community – he is somewhat alienated by the others in his village but when he brings home a mysterious woman she will transform a community in a way they could never have foreseen.

It is a powerful and emotive story which will impact upon all its readers. Very much out of my comfort zone of reading and quite unlike what I normally pick up so I have a limited benchmark to compare and contrast Sealskin with.

I very much enjoyed the depiction of the remote community and the environment which the fishermen all worked. Capturing the location is essential to engage a reader and Su Bristow does a marvellous job in setting the ideal scene to let her selkie play.

A fantastical tale which is fantastically told.


Sealskin is published by Orenda and is available in digital format and paperback. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealskin-Su-Bristow/dp/1910633607/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486344510&sr=1-1&keywords=seal+skin+su+bristow

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Posted February 6, 2017 by Gordon in category "Blog Tours", "From The Bookshelf