Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.
Unexpectedly, Kait is awoken by a beautiful, selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.
Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?
Why I Read This Book
I was approached by Krista Holle to read The Lure of Shapinsay — she saw that I liked reading romances and YA books and told me that this fits well in both categories. I also really liked the idea of the selkies, who seemed almost like mermaids, luring people to their deaths. And, of course, the hot guy on the cover was a selling point.
As I sit here trying to think of what to write for my review of Krista Holle’s debut novel, The Lure of Shapinsay, I find myself still stuck in the world of the book, a world set late in the 1800’s on the cliff’s of an old village, feeling the spray of the water on my skin as I gaze out towards the waves in the hopes of sighting a selkie.
Admittedly, when I first started reading this book, I had no idea what a selkie even was. Turns out, they’re part of Scottish folklore, a seal-type creature who lives in the water as a seal, but can shed their skin and walk on Earth like a man. They’re almost like a mer-person, able to lure in people with their being. This was one thing that I loved about the book, as well as the dialogue of the 1800’s. This is definitely not a book to read if you’re just new to the English language — there were times where I had to go with the gist of the sentence to get what was being said. Though, that’s not a bad thing — Krista Holle did a wonderful job of writing this book.
When I go back the beginning of the novel, the first chapter, The Birth, I recall being completely swept up in the story. It starts out with a BANG! and I just couldn’t put it down. Though this isn’t to say that I didn’t have bouts of frustration throughout the book! Now, don’t misunderstand me! My frustrations had nothing to do with the story, but more with the main character herself. Kait is, at first, a head-strong woman who is managing on her own, until she meets her selkie. From then on, it’s like she’s under a spell that he’s cast and would do anything for him.
It was love at first sight for her, which usually irks me, but it really wasn’t love at first sight — it was the lure of the selkie. Throughout most of the book, I didn’t know if it was just this spell Kait was under that suddenly shattered her will, or if it was the selkie, but it was very frustrating. I wanted to shout at her that she doesn’t need to pine! She can do things on her own! This was something, I’m sure, that Krista Holle was striving to do in her writing — I don’t want to give too much away because there are plenty of crazy things that happen as the book goes on!
I will admit that the thing that initially drew me in was the cover. This is an example of a book where the cover really matches the book. After reading, I can see the selkie quality in the hot guy on the cover, as well as his selkie coat draped on his shoulders. The mood in the background is exactly what I thought of while reading the pages and picturing the atmosphere in my head. It’s a perfect match.
This book won’t be for everyone — it’s a romance, but definitely more of a PG romance. There’s not a lot of sultry, sexy-times scenes, but there is some loving going on. That was one thing that I wanted more of in the book. Let’s just say that the only Scottish romance books that I’ve read usually lead to a lot of descriptive romance scenes. I must be spoiled.
At any rate, this was definitely a nice read. I really enjoyed learning about a new mythical creature and being thrust into the sea-side town of Shapinsay. If you’re a fan of romance, or stories tinged with folk-lore and fairytales, with a bit of fantasy, then this is a good read for you.
Who Should Read This Book
If you like lighter romance books that don’t delve deeply into a lot of “sexy-times” — or if you enjoy reading novels that are set around sea creatures and myths, then I would say you should give this one a read.
Big thank you to Krista Holle for participating in a Q&A on the blog!
Q&A With Krista Holle
I’ve been writing my whole life, but to be honest, I became serious about writing after the success of Twilight. It occurred to me there’s an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read stories about true love, not just vampires. Convinced there was an audience for what I loved to write—paranormal romance—I sat down in the family’s basement, a.k.a. the dungeon and began to furiously type.
What is the atmosphere like when you write – completely silent, or do you listen to music?
Tomb silence. My writing ritual includes a heavy pair of silencing headphones that help me to become a more dysfunctional mother.
I’m a musician and I feel most inspired to write in the springtime. Is there a certain season when you feel most compelled to put pen to paper?
Definitely the fall when the kids go back to school. I love the silence in the house. It really opens up my imagination and gets my fingers flying.
What book are you reading right now? Do you have any guilty pleasure genres you enjoy reading?
Right now I’m reading Entwined by Heather Dixon. I love fairy tales, and this one is a remake of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. My guilty pleasure would be The Goddess Test series. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.
The Lure of Shapinsay is about selkies, a seal-type creature from Scottish folklore. What made you interested in writing about selkies? Do you plan to write more stories about selkies in the future?
I decided to write about selkies because paranormal creatures are so hot right now and practically nobody has heard of these wonderful mythical creatures. For the selkie newbie, selkies are seal men and women who live the bulk of their lives under the sea as seals but occasional shed their skins to come on land as humans. The men are known for their beauty and luring human women to their deaths deep beneath the sea.
When you’re not writing, what do you do in your spare time?
I’m a critical care nurse who has an obsession with collecting seashells.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write, write, write, and find good beta readers that aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings. For every unflattering critique I’ve received, I’ve grown as an author.
Can you share any details on what you might be working on next? Any exciting projects in the works?
The Wind Whisperer will be released later this year. It’s a young adult romance about a fifteen-year-old Native American girl with the ability to “hear” the voices of the wind spirits. While her tribe’s at war with a brother tribe, Anaii falls in love with the enemy. It’s a juicy love triangle filled with intrigue, murder, battles, and kidnappings. Even the guys will like this one. It’s the first in a trilogy.
About The Author
Krista has been writing since she was nine-years-old when she scribbled out her first adolescent work entitled Merish, the completely illogical but heartfelt story of a girl who was part mermaid, part fish. As a young mother, Krista added to her repertoire some middle grade readers and picture books she’s wary of mentioning.
In 2004, Krista began an intensive four year period working part-time as a critical care nurse while homeschooling her four children. During this hectic time, courses of writing were taught and learned, and rules of syntax were scolded to memory. Ironically this period of study equipped Krista with the tools she needed to enter the next phase of her writing experience. Now equipped with the mysteries of the comma, Krista was ready to tackle a much bigger project—a full fledged novel.
After the kids were enrolled in public school in 2009, it occurred to Krista that there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books filled with stories about true love. Convinced that there was an unfulfilled audience waiting for what Krista loves to write—romance, she sat down in the family’s dungeon, a.k.a. the basement, and began to furiously type. In no time, her first novel was drying on crisp white paper.
Krista currently resides in Midlothian, Virginia with her husband, four daughters, and an eccentric cat with an attachment to the family’s socks. She continues to write obsessively every chance she can get. (Photo and bio from the author’s website)
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