Selkie Summer (Ken MacLeod)

Selkie Summer is a novella by Ken MacLeod.
Finished on: 6.7.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away.]

Siobhan has decided to spend her summer break to work on the Isle of Skye where she hopes to find some time to snorkel and explore the ocean’s wildlife, as she really wants to start to study marine biology in the fall. And it doesn’t hurt that she can put some distance between herself and her ex Kieran in this way. What she definitely doesn’t expect is to be drawn into a whole conspiracy involving selkies by way of the cutest boy in town, Calvin.

Selkie Summer has some nice ideas, and I’m pretty sure that it could have been a great story – if it had been developed a little more. I got the distinct impression that the book was published too early and should have gone through a couple of more re-workings. That being said, it’s cute enough.

The book cover showing a man made of water, fish swimming in his chest.

The novella opens with Siobhan’s bus having to stop because kelpies are passing by the road. She snaps a pic and posts it on instagram. The casual way in which mythical creatures and technologies are connected here was really nice and made a lot of the charm of the book – I wish it had been expanded a little more, as I wished for the entire book, actually.

It appears that Selkie Summer is a novel-sized story told in novella-length. And the lack of length is not achieved by condensing everything down and packing things tightly, but instead things are just missing. It would have needed that length to tie everything together properly (for example, the entire Kieran subplot feels like its intruding from another book), to take the time to let the story grow more organically (it feels like it takes about three days from Siobhan meeting Calvin to her being entirely caught in selkie politics), and to really show why people do what they do (Siobhan’s quick acceptance of pretty much everything she is told reads as so supremely naive that I would have liked a little more explanation there, for example).

I did enjoy reading it, but I think I could have enjoyed it a whole lot more if it had given itself a little more time to grow.

Summarizing: cute, but underdeveloped.

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