Cordelia Sullivan lives on the shores of Selkie Bay, an Irish town filled with myth and mystery about the shape-shifting seals who supposedly inhabit the waters. Sounds like a wonderful place to grow up, doesn’t it? What if your own mother might be one of the seal women? What if she left without a trace and you didn’t know if you would ever see her again?
Whether Mum is a selkie or not remains to be seen, but the reality is that she is definitely gone, and she has definitely left behind her husband and three daughters to fend for themselves. While Da works at the docks repairing boats, sensible Cordie is left in charge of her younger sisters Ione and Neevy. It’s all she can do to keep the family afloat in the absence of a mother, especially since baby Neevy keeps getting sick.
By day, Cordie works in a local shop to earn money, and by night she spins stories of selkies to help Ione through her grief. It would be easier, she reasons, for her sister to believe that their mum was a magical seal woman who needed to return to the ocean than to believe that their mum was just an ordinary human who walked away. And it is easier, at first. Until it’s not.
Ione believes too fiercely in the stories, and she’s sure that they can call her back to her woman form if they try hard enough. Soon, a chain of events send the Sullivan sisters fleeing out into the bay on a trip fraught with danger, pursuit, and perhaps a little bit of magic. Will the girls survive their voyage to the island of the selkies? What will they find if they can get there in one piece? Treasure? Seals? Their beloved mum?
Secrets of Selkie Bay is a beautifully told yarn full of great characters and a nice big dose of magical realism. Older readers will love Cordie and Ione and will enjoy trying to crack open the mystery of the seals and the Sullivan matriarch along with the sisters. Recommended, especially for readers who like Celtic legends and tall tales. 192 pages 978-1250080110 Ages 11-13,
Recommended by: Molly Crumbley, Liibrarian, Maryland, USA.