Sea Hearts – Margo Lanagan
Allen & Unwin, 2012
Once there were seal wives on Rollrock Island, but now those with any trace of the sea in them are careful to hide it or they will be shunned by their neighbours. Misskaella has troubles enough of her own – laughed at by her sisters, scolded by her parents, sneered at by people of the town. When she wakes up one day with the promises of her heritage shimmering in the world around her, dizzying her, it is only another shame she knows she has to somehow bear. Then one night something changes. Misskaella goes down to the seals who gather around Rollrock Island, and for the first time, she uses her power. But what is the price of shaping your heart’s desire from the wild sea?
This is the latest book from an Australian author well-known for her short story collections and novels, including the World Fantasy Award winning Tender Morsels. In Sea Hearts (which won the World Fantasy Award for best novella in 2010) Lanagan creates a darkly evocative story of beauty, longing and betrayal that not only does full justice to the tragic power of the folk tales upon which it is based, but also makes it hard to imagine how they could be retold any better.