Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review of Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson

In the late 1800's, Maire believes she is the child of her Irish father and a selkie who had to abandon her for her own seal folk in the sea. The stars align and allow Maire to follow her heart to the wilds of Alaska, ostensibly to teach English language and Christian values to the native Tlingit tribes there. The grand scale of the landscape astonishes her, but she feels more at home there than anywhere else. This is partly a story of the spirit's liberation, but elements of the plot are based on the selkie myths, so in hindsight, I might want to go back and warn Maire about the consequences of returning to where she belongs. The ending in particular is surprising and mystical.

Selkie Dreams combines the charm of Irish folktales with the grandeur and pride of Tlingit myth, which is no small feat. The author writes with both sensitivity and authority about two places with which she is intimately familiar. I enjoyed the wide array of characters who were complex mixtures of their upbringing and their innermost desires. I would have liked to know a bit more about William, but since he is a mystery to Maire, it's appropriate that he's mainly a mystery to the reader.

The novel overall is realistic and historically accurate, with interesting parallels between the social place of the Irish in Britain and the circumscribed role of the Tlingit and other Native Americans in Western Civilization. But through it all runs an undercurrent of lore. I highly recommend this book for readers who appreciate history with a twist.