When we review books, we like to also recommend the perfect situation in which to read it. This is one for a coastal pub, you know the sort that has an old fishing boat suspended from the ceiling and anchor motifs everywhere, and should ideally be consumed with a pint of beer or even maybe some SeaCider, if you’re that way inclined.
Su Bristow knows how to make you fall in love with a place. Having been to the west coast of Scotland, I know that it is a place of rugged beauty and bracing cold. Her words brought it back to life entirely accurately. You’d think such a dramatic coastline would dominate the book, but her characters are as bold and as vivid as the crashing waves and brooding skies.
The traditional tale of the selkie and the fisherman who catches her by stealing her skin is fleshed out here to go beyond the fairytale. Instead of a simple legend, you get a subtle, nuanced tale that shows a different world in which people are not neatly divided into heroes and villains but have the capacity for redemption and forgiveness. It is quite beautiful in its telling and a read that stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Sealskin by Su Bristow (Orenda Books, £8.99) is out now. You can buy it at an even cheaper cost from Hive here.