The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island - Margo Lanagan I think I can best explain my feelings towards this book in terms of what it wasn't quite.

For example:
The writing was lovely, but not quite beautiful.
The story was interesting, but not quite captivating.
The story was different, but not quite unique*.
The multiple points of view didn't quite work as well as it should have.

The word 'quite" is starting to look a little odd to me, so I'll stop using it.

A couple of little technical points really grated on me as a reader, petty though they may be. First, there was the fact that sometimes speech was written between inverted commmas (as is the norm) and other times it was written in italics, but I never could work out the exact reason. I did think it could be to indicate memory, but there were other times of recall that didn't follow this rule so I was left bewildered and annoyed.

Second, and pettier still, is that fact that in the edition I read, the first page of each chapter was printed on the left-hand page, which was likely intentional but to me simply felt sloppy and annoying, like a first print-job had gone slightly wrong.

There were, of course, good points. Some of the characters were quite interesting, and their points of view a pleasure to read. The story itself was fairy interesting also, although some points that were bought in were dragged out and unnecessary. The writing itself was wonderfully bleak, if you read it in the right mood, or depressing and boring if you are feeling impatient, as I was when I started.

Once I got past the first few pages, it managed to grip me enough for me to finish it but those first pages were a struggle that took me almost a month to overcome.

My verdict: worth reading, but likely to be soon forgotten.

*an interesting re-working of the selkie myth, but not as original as others I have read and heard.