Friday, April 15, 2016

The (Al)lure of the Selkie

In Tuesday’s post announcing Skin Deep’s release I mentioned something about always having had a thing for selkies, so I thought it might be fun to take a look at selkie legend and folklore.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, selkies are a type of shape-shifter, a magical creature that can take the form either of a seal or a human.  They’re a Celtic creature, from the islands and west coast of Scotland as well as the east coast of Ireland. But unusually for shape-shifters, they don’t just change from one form to another: in order to assume his (or her) human form, a selkie takes off his or her skin and puts it on again when it’s time to return to the sea. In human form they’re said to be very beautiful, dark-haired with shining eyes—so beautiful that humans who see them often fall madly in love with them. But they also often have rough skin on their hands as well as webbed fingers.

The most common stories about selkies usually involve a human happening upon them at one of their dances, for selkies were said to gather on beaches at the full moon to take off their skins and dance together in the moonlight. Smitten by their beauty, the human (usually a fisherman out late at night to check his nets) would sneak over to where the selkies had left their skins and steal the one belonging to the fairest selkie maid, forcing her to remain in her human shape. Though she would beg for him to return her skin he always refused, and would somehow convince her to marry him (maybe she figured that if she stayed close to him she would be able to find her skin again.) They would marry and raise a family together...but years later the selkie would find the place where her husband had hidden her skin  (often led there by one of her own children, who has no idea what the soft furry cloak he or she has found is) and snatch it away to return to the sea...though in some of the stories she would return to visit her children.

It’s a beguiling image, isn’t it—the beautiful selkies, laughing and smiling as they dance on the beach with the sea glittering beyond them in the moonlight, the smitten fisherman watching them from behind a boulder, perhaps? I’m not sure if that’s the image that drew me, or the fact that seals are pretty neat creatures to begin with...but the selkie legend has always held a strong fascination for me, so it was inevitable I’d write about them one day.  But in Skin Deep, I’ve turned the selkie legend more than a little upside down...and given it a happily ever after ending.  Want to find out how?  You can find it in ebook format at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo...and in print also at Amazon. Or if you’re feeling lucky, you can take a chance at winning one of ten copies I’m giving away through Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Skin Deep by Marissa Doyle

Skin Deep

by Marissa Doyle

Giveaway ends May 15, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Any fellow selkie fans out there? Or is there another shape-shifter legend that has you fascinated?

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