Thursday 8 November 2018
Review: The Blue Salt Road - Joanne M Harris
And aye she sings, "Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn's father,
Far less the land that he staps in.
(Child Ballad, no. 113)
So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.
Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there - without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.
Visit Joanne M Harris' website or Bonnie Helen Hawkins' website for more information
The Blue Salt Road is a fantastic folktale written by Joanne M Harris and beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. It's the kind of book to pick up on a blustery autumn day when you're tucked up somewhere nice and warm in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and a few free hours to spend reading - you'll definitely want to finish it in one sitting!
If you're familiar with selkie folktales you'll already know that they can remove their skin and walk on land as humans but that if someone steals their skin then they will be trapped in their human form and unable to return to the sea. Joanne M Harris built her story around this premise and has created a story of curiosity, young love, betrayal and devastation.
The selkies have long known that people of the Folk can't be trusted but one young selkie prince is looking for adventure and starts spending more and more time on land, ignoring the advice of the other selkies and sea creatures. Eventually he meets a young girl and when she falls pregnant desperation leads her to take drastic measures to make sure he marries her. I don't want to go into more detail about the story so you'll just have to read it for yourself but Joanne M Harris did a brilliant job of capturing his confusion about what has happened to him and his yearning for something he can't quite put his finger on.
This is a story that will pull you in and make you feel like you're right there with the characters, you'll feel the salt spray on your lips as he joins his father in law on a whaling ship and you'll feel his horror when he starts to understand just what the Folk are capable of doing to the creatures he used to consider friends. I honestly thought I knew how the story would end but it ended up going in a surprising direction and I really liked that the author was able to surprise me.
Alongside the fantastic writing you have the incredible illustrations from Bonnie Helen Hawkins that really help bring this world even more to life. Honestly I'd love to frame some of these pictures because they really are beautiful and even though I was sent a proof copy from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review I'm definitely going to be buying myself a hardback copy to treasure. I had to include just a couple of the gorgeous illustrations in this review so you can see exactly what I'm talking about:
Source: Received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review
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Hardback / Kindle: