‘Love Struck’ an intriguing tale of selchie love and lore February 19, 2012Posted by Diana McCabe in Book picks.
Tags: Alana, Love Struck, Melissa Marr, Murrin, selchies, selkies, Vic, Wicked Lovely
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Who would have thought seal love would be magical? Leave it to Melissa Marr to turn this bit of folklore into a short story of romance with a bit of a feminist twist.
I didn’t know much about selchies — or selkies — until I read LOVE STRUCK. I only knew that they were mythological creatures who live as seals but can take human form. For some reason, I always thought they were evil. And that they were women.
But in Marr’s short story, teenager Alana knows about the selchie legends and how the seal creatures can shed their “pelts” on shore to walk as human. In most legends, the female selchies are often trapped by human males as wives. But here, Alana meets not just one, but two selchie males who want her for a bride. (What’s cool for me? Marr writes in her introduction to FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES that the Alana/selchie story was influenced by Solana Beach here in San Diego County!)
And of course, these selchie males — Vic and Murrin — are gorgeous. But there’s always a catch to paranormal love and it has to do with that blasted selchie pelt and the history behind Vic and Murrin. I won’t spoil the Vic and Murrin angle. But here’s what you need to know about the pelts: As a human, if you touch it, you’re pretty much infatuated with that selchie and he or she is attracted to you. And if you hide the pelt, the selchie won’t be able to return to the sea unless he or she finds it. In previous folklore, the selchies always stuck on shore were women because human fishermen would trap them by hiding their pelts. But in this story, Marr turns the tables and Alana has her choice between Vic and Murrin. And both have different reasons for wanting her as a bride and different tactics for getting her attention.
As short stories go, this was an interesting tale. Marr gives her female characters backbone. They don’t just fall for the good-looking guy. They are independent. They want to know he is the real deal. And even if it is true love — they want to be their own person and follow their own dreams.
You can find this short story in a couple of places. It’s at the beginning of a book titled LOVE STRUCK, which also contains chapter 1 of WICKED LOVELY and also the first chapter of INK EXCHANGE. (If you haven’t read the WICKED LOVELY series CLICK HERE to read my review on it.) LOVE STRUCK is also coming out this week (Feb. 21) in FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES, a collection of short stories tales of favorite characters from Marr’s WICKED LOVELY novels and some new characters we haven’t met yet. (I plan to review the collection.) And, you can find it in LOVE IS HELL, an anthology.
If you read this short story, let me know what you think. I have one of those logic questions about the pelts and the ending. So leave me a note and I’ll ask you my question! Or — maybe Marr ended the story this way because she plans to explore the world of the selchies later? Would be an intriguing world to visit.
Tags: Graveminder, Melissa Marr
Someone has to watch over the dead in Claysville. Feed them. Console them. Make sure they stay put.
And for decades, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, did just that. Maylene went to every funeral in town and performed the same ritual that Rebekkah witnessed over and over. She would take three sips from a silver flask and say “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”
But Rebekkah, an outsider who only lived in Claysville for a short time and visited her grandmother as a young adult, never knew why. And now that her grandmother is dead — murdered — the duty to mind the dead falls to her in Melissa Marr’s latest book, GRAVEMINDER, a gritty, urban fantasy that makes you wonder if people really do have a choice about who they love and why.
Rebekkah Barrow is torn with indecision and guilt over her destined role in Claysville, a town where the native born never leave, but live quiet and happy lives until they turn at least 80 and then they are subject to the same health issues as anyone else. But the price for that so-called peace has been a pact with the underworld that dictates that a Graveminder — a Barrow woman — and the town’s Undertaker — a Montgomery man — work together to make sure the dead of Claysville are buried properly. And if they aren’t — to lead them to the other side, a place ruled by the mysterious Charles — also called Mr. D. If the dead aren’t properly minded, they will walk among the living and kill.
Helping Rebekkah is the Undertaker — Byron Montgomery, an old love who Rebekkah has run away from because — among other things — he used to date her sister. Neither Rebekkah nor Bryon learn of their roles in Claysville until the very last minute. They must sift through old journals and records and visit the land of Dr. D to find clues to mind the dead.
They also learn that the Graveminder and Undertaker are historically tied and drawn to each other. He must protect her, and she depends on him to guide her from the land of the dead — which she finds immensely attractive. Is it the destiny of the Graveminder and Undertaker the reason Rebekkah and Bryon have always been attracted to each other? Or is it true love? Or does it even matter? With no time to figure out their feelings for each other, Rebekkah and Byron must work together to figure out who killed Maylene and to deal with the dead — who are now suddenly so restless.
This is an urban fantasy, who-done-it mystery with a dash of romance. The story is laced with folklore, and at first — because I was reading so quickly — I didn’t understand how the role of Graveminder or Undertaker is passed along, so read the first chapters carefully. The most interesting parts of the story occur when Marr takes us into the world of Dr. D. How he and the rest of the dead are connected to the world of the living is fascinating, and she hasn’t revealed all that much in this first book — but there’s enough to make you wonder what she’ll do in the next installment.
Fans of Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series about humans and the fae understand that this author is great at building dark and mysterious worlds where each of her characters must make choices — no matter what their destiny. And she holds true to form in GRAVEMINDER.
Visit Melissa Marr’s website for excerpts from the novel and also some nifty Graveminders/Undertakers history (click the link to download the chart below in PDF format or you can download it from Melissa’s site.)
Tags: Aislinn, Darkest Mercy, Donia, Keenan, Melissa Marr, Seth, Wicked Lovely
Fans of Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series have been waiting for DARKEST MERCY — the fifth and final novel in the saga about the world of the fae and battle between good and evil. Of course, it’s also about finding out if you’re strong enough to leave the one you love for a greater purpose. Or is love that greater purpose? (DON’T MISS! Check out the interview we did on Last Bite Podcast with Melissa Marr. It should be available HERE later this week.)
DARKEST MERCY picks up where RADIANT SHADOWS left off. Aislinn is fending for herself as Summer Queen because Keenan is AWOL. While she needs Keenan to run the court, she pines for her true love, Seth. But does Seth still want her? Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is dealing with his new powers as a seer and exactly what that means. Donia — like Aislinn — is dealing the best she can with the Winter Court as she longs for Keenan — a love she thinks can never really be. And will Niall find a way to save Irial, who was stabbed with a poisonous knife by Bananach?
Such a lot of story lines to wind up but Marr cleverly handles the pace and plot by writing DARKEST MERCY from several points of view. I liked this approach because the reader gets a chance to really get inside a character’s head and see the story from his/her perspective. So we understand Niall’s anguish after he brings healer after healer to Irial with the same result. And his anger toward Seth, who he believes might have been able to foresee the action and have saved Irial. We feel Donia’s pain, when she realizes to make the Summer Court whole and strengthen her own. she can never have Keenan. We see Keenan’s struggles as he realizes he must make a choice between his Summer Queen and Donia.
The best part for me was watching Aislinn grow. Throughout this series, she’s been tough at times, but mostly she’s flopped about trying to figure out her new role while keeping her true love with her. That’s pretty tough to do with the sexy and worldly Keenan tempting you and evil fae trying to kill or unseat you. But when both her love interests seemingly abandon her, she’s had it. And she takes action She’s determined to get her court back in order and to sort out her love life — no matter what. Yes, at times I found both Keenan and Seth exasperating and wished she’d dump both of ’em (ditto for Donia), but in the end, Ash stays true to herself, as do the other characters.
The most interesting story though involved Leslie, Irial and Niall. I don’t want to spoil it for folks but it was a rather creative ending for this trio. And if you didn’t have a good idea about the depth of love Irial and Niall held for each other — it’s very clear here. You see a different side to Niall — and one that’s not so nice.
Sure, it’s no big surprise that in end, everyone has to work together to defeat War and Disorder. Marr doesn’t flinch though. The Death Man is in town and some favorite side characters die during the battle. It’s a bit bittersweet. But the entire series has always juggled darkness and cruelty with the light and sunshine of Marr’s worlds.
What’s interesting about Marr’s work is how her characters grow and make decisions we think they aren’t really capable of making. Some might complain that the ending is too neatly wrapped up for the main characters — Ash, Donia, Seth and Keenan — but many other questions linger for others such as Niall, Leslie and Irial. (I particularly like how Keenan’s story ends. It’s rather ironic at first but just.) I have to say — I kind of want a bit more. I want to know how things look 100 years from now. But that’s not the author’s intent. The series is about change and growth and how one handles those changes and ensuing decisions. If you look at the entirety of this series, it’s a fitting ending to a story that has so many themes that lots of YA readers — and adults — can relate to in their own lives.
If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, save this one for the end. The books — in order:
Check out the interview we did on Last Bite Podcast with Melissa Marr. It should be available HERE later this week.