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Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island (Margo Lanagan)

The Brides of Rollrock IslandOn remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings--and to catch their wives.
The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.

Product Details:
Reading level: older YA, adult
Pages: 320
Publisher: February 2nd 2012 by David Fickling Books
ISBN: 9780857560339
Source: NetGalley

Oh. Man. Not at all what I expected. Not even close! I’m still undecided how I feel about this one. Honestly, I didn’t like it. It took me forever (in my terms) to finish this book! Not a good sign.

Why didn’t I like The Brides of Rollrock Island? Well… It all started with the first 70 pages or so. Could this have been any more confusing? I couldn’t keep the characters straight. It was so irritating. My poor brain didn’t know what it was reading (and this is not a problem that I typically have). So you can see why I was frustrated, right? If I can’t make sense of who is telling the story, then how can I decipher the plot? Ugh. As the book went on, I figured out how things were working so that problem became less of an issue, but it still made for a rough start. 

The set up for this book was interesting too. It’s told from multiple points of view. Basically, each “chapter” is a new part of the Rollrock Island history that is told from the point of view of a new generation. While it did give an interesting quality to the story, I felt it interfered with the overall story. I could dissect the story further and show some of the positives, but I don’t want to go through the effort. You would have to read this book to understand what I was saying anyway. As a piece of literature, I can see some positive qualities, but I personally did not enjoy this book. 

I also didn’t care for the writing. I know, I know… Yes, it was well written and the descriptions were very detailed. But I am sorry, it felt wordy at times. In fact, I found myself skipping entire pages and finding that I hadn’t missed a bit of information. There is something wrong with that. Add that to my initial “problem” with the book, and my attention span is gone. Done. Finis. I have nothing left to give as a reader.

** Not a kid friendly review from this point forward **
 Now, add both of those complaints to my gripes with the characters themselves. WTH. The men in this book infuriated me. I have NEVER felt so much disgust and contempt for a group of characters in my life. How am I supposed to buy in that these pervs are so freakin’ horny that they are ready to knock boots with anything that pops up naked from the sea? Yeah, that’s what’s happening… grrrr. And the freak-o that keeps the poor sealwoman in the closest as a sperm depository and then GLOATS about it to his wife and family? Oh, hell no. I shut down right there. I was so disgusted with how quickly these men threw away their individual sense of decency that I couldn’t recover. No matter what else I read, I couldn’t get past this. 
** End non-kid friendly portion **

Of course, the teacher in me is conflicted. While, as a reader, I did not connect with this story, I can see its purpose in a (mature) classroom setting. The setting is phenomenal. The characters are so screwed up that they make the perfect discussion point. The fact that all this sealwomen enchantment started up (again) out of revenge would open the door to a very interesting conversation. Plus, the story being continued through different generations of Rollrock inhabitants gives an unique angle. But, despite my conflicted views, overall I did not like this book. As something I picked up for fun, I did not enjoy my time reading. I finished out of a sense of commitment, not because I was captivated by the story.  


  1. tnx 4 the review . i love weird books

  2. I still have this on my NetGalley, I think...unless it's timed out by now. I have so many books to get to, but I'm pretty sure my feelings might match yours with this one. I don't have a lot of patience with books, so if they annoy me within the first chapter or two, I'll stop reading them. I may try a sample of it eventually, but I don't feel as bad putting this way down the list. :-)

    Literally Jen

  3. Oh Jen. This book... no words. Bleh. I was SO disappointed.


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Product Details

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Square Fish (August 21, 2007)
ISBN-10: 9780312369828
Source: My personal book

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