The Mysterious and Alluring Selkies

golden cityOver at USA Today Happily Ever After, I’m interviewing J. Kathleen Cheney today about her Golden City fantasy series, set in an HEAalternate world and featuring a dark murder mystery mixed up with magic. (Isn’t her cover gorgeous?) She selected 1902 Portugal as the site  for her stories, for  reasons she discusses in the HEA  column.  Her world of  sirens and selkies living amongst the non-magical folks is fascinating. Hop on over to read more about JKC and her novels.

The first time I encountered the legends of selkies was in the movie “Roan Inish,” which I happened to catch on TV one afternoon. I’m sorry to say but the whole concept of these immortal beings of the sea who were roan inishseals but could become human if they shed their coats wasn’t too clear to me even after watching the movie. Then in 2008 I read Virginia Kantra’s Sea Witch , first book in her  Children of the Sea series, and oh boy, I got the picture! I also loved the series because a lot of the action was set on an island off the coast of Maine and I have relatives who live on such an island, so I could really relate.

And of course there’s a selkie in the Anne McCaffrey Petaybee Series which I’m tempted to go reread right now, except for the fact I’m trying to finish writing my own next novel LOL.

I’m sure other people write about selkies – a search of Amazon turns up about 90 results without even refining the terms further – but for me, the fascination of JKC’s Portuguese setting and the addition of sirens and some other very interesting paranormal types make The Golden City series memorable.

Selkies or similar creatures appear in myth from Ireland to Iceland, which surprised me a bit, as after watching “Roan Inish” I thought they were all Irish! There are many many legends surrounding these beings and most times any romance between a human and a selkie in human form doesn’t seem too turn out too happily. Lots of rules…many “gotchas”…I like the one about a woman having to cry exactly seven tears into the ocean if she wants to have a handsome selkie man pay her a visit. On the other hand, I never liked the idea that a human man could keep a selkie woman for his wife by locking her sealskin away, which struck me as cruel and contrary to true love….the “dark Faerie Celtic vocal band” Pandora Celtica sum the entire situation up very well in this song “Sister Selkie”:

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One comment on “The Mysterious and Alluring Selkies

  1. I’ve always disliked that particular myth, too. (It seems abusive to me.)

    And the part where the son goes “mama, why is there an old pelt up in the rafters” and she finds her pelt there and disappears….

    That’s always annoyed me. It seems to imply that no matter how hard she’s looked for her pelt, she can’t seem to find what a child did accidentally!

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