Review by Shellie for: Selkie Dreams ~ by Kristin Gleeson
A historical novel set in England and Alaska during Victorian times. It has Native Alaskan mythology with a bit from the British Isles woven through it.
About: Marie is a young woman who has grown up without her mum. Living with her wealthy father in England, the household’s cook tells Marie stories that lead her to believe that her mum was a selkie – a mythological creature that is seal in the ocean and human on land. It becomes a key belief for Marie and draws her to the sea.
When Marie’s father, decides to marry Marie off to a much older and overweight widow, Marie barely escapes by pretending to want to help in the efforts to Christianize the native population at a small mission in Alaska. It is after all close to the sea. Full of hope and wishing to connect with her selkie heritage, she arrives in Alaska to live with a very devout woman, who controls her every move and her kind husband who has an understanding for the Native Alaskan culture.
As the outpost’s teacher, Marie is asked to help the local children learn and become Christian with strict bible quoting lessons. However Marie has other ideas about how to teach the Natives and finds that she feels connected more to them than with her own people.
Thoughts: This was an engrossing historical novel that has mythology from two cultures embedded in it. I truly enjoy stories that contain myth, and with this particular novel one can almost consider it as having a slight speculative edge. Apparently the author has done some in-depth research into Native Alaskan heritage, so the novel has given a glimpse into a not very well know culture and created an intriguing subject mater to learn about.
Set during in the late 1800’s, when women had very little say about what they could do with their lives and were required to live within strict rules of conduct, our main character had to use indirect manipulations to evade things like her planned marriage. She goes even further to violate the cultural mores of the time but I will not spoil this dramatic story for you. But because Marie is a heroine who dares to go against these required behaviors, with consequences, it gives the story a feminist flavor.
I enjoyed Selkie Dreams with its romance, mythological core and its absolute drop-off-a-cliff shocker of an ending. I was completely blown away. It’s a 3.5 stars in my opinion and recommended for those who like strong female leads, reading about different cultures, stories set in Victorian times, and historical fiction with a touch of romance.
Knox Robinson Publishing; 386 pages; (June 7, 2012)
For more about the author Kristin Gleeson see her website: http://www.kristingleeson.com/