So I read Tender Morsels back when, and while I didn’t want to MARRY it, I DID want to take it on a sexy date. And then I read Black Juice and was all, THIS IS GOLDEN MASTERY and then read Yellowcake and was all THIS IS ALSO EXCEEDINGLY GOOD.
And then Margo Lanagan is all, I am writing a book about selkies, and I am all, *sits on hands, waiting* and this is the part where I tell you that Margo and I are Friends On The Internet and that I got this book for free, so that you may weigh the sincerity of the subsequent gushing. Because oh, I shall enthuse.
So the childrens are collecting sea-hearts on the beach (for eatings) and they see the old witch knitting up a blanket out of the seaweed, and you are like Well that is weird, but witches do as they do, and then suddenly it is The Past and we are to find out why the witch does.
Because the women! They come out of seals when the witch calls them! And the men marry them and hide their skins and then the women can never return to the sea. Alas for them! Hear their sad seal songs!
Parts of it are delightful and REVENGEY, and parts are so lovely and sad that they will kill you dead. And then, and this surprised me, there is one sweet, soft, sentimental bit. Where did you come from, darling happy piece? You shine there, all unexpected.
There were some gripes on the nettletubes about the REVENGEFULNESS taken in Tender Morsels, but I like a little witchy vengeance, me. And surface-wise, Sea Hearts is All Vengeance, All The Time. A fat, sealish girl is scorned and mistreated and grows up to be all, LO, MENFOLK, how you like some seal-wives? With a side of BROKEN HEARTS FOREVAR? And ladies, how you like no men to ever marry you, because dayum seal wives is fine?
And usually I don’t give a fig for your structure. Give me snappy writing or give me juicy plot and to hell with the rest. But when the structure is fucking perfect it’s difficult to ignore. Because I feel like multiple POVs are usually so that you can See All The Angles, Leaving Nothing To The Imagination. But HERE the POVs serve to only show you this bit here, or this craggy facet, and it’s only just enough for you to assemble the picture yourself.
And the picture turns out to be less about revenge, and more about personal responsibility, the lazy shirking of same, and the stupid reprehensibility of shifting the blame to enchantment, which makes me think scathingly of all those novels where the dude is all I had to have you I could not help it you have bewitched me etc. Which, I’m sure we’ll all agree, is a crock. And there’s this one scene where a dude is THOROUGHLY CHASTISED for being a faithless choad, and he’s all ‘I couldn’t help it’ and ‘I never intended for this to happen’ and all that garbage, and the Abandoned Girl is basically like, I don’t give a shit for your intentions, and it is splendid.
And I feel this way about books sometimes, like I feel about pie, like I want to eat it in teeny bits but I also want to eat it whole. I want to be eating it and to have eaten it all at once. I guess that’s the beauty of re-reading, and I will be re-reading this one on the regular. Because I know I made fun of Shatter Me for its POETIC STYLINGS (sarcasm-font, where are you when I need you?), but I actually quite like pretty writings. Por ejemplo:
I closed my eyes and they all melted into the sea-smell: Geedre flat as a sleeping fish on the other side of that wall; Dad and Mam either side of the table, which was like a slab of rock or the side of a sunken ship; Nase and his girl there like two twined strands of sea-ribbon, tilted in the flow.
In sum, this was so good I could PUNCH someone.
Ed. Also, it is called Brides of Rollrock Island in not-Australia and comes out in September in North America. I KNOW. I’m sorry. I will remind you then that you want it.