Friday, 19 November 2010

Land of the Seal People

Author: Duncan Williamson
ISBN: 1841588806/9781841588803

I read "The Land of the Seal People" having just finished David Thomson's excellent "The People Of The Sea: Celtic Legends And Myths: Celtic Tales of the Seal-folk". I was hoping it would match it for warmth and wonder, but I was to be slightly disappointed. Although each tale comes with a paragraph explaining where it was heard and a description of the teller is included, names not always included for obvious reasons, the atmosphere in which the tales were told is missing and the attachment gained from learning more about the teller is lost. To that end, I could not warm to these tales as much as I could to those told by Thomson.

"The Land of the Seal People" doesn't just focus on the selkie, but includes encounters with others of the supernatural kind and, as much as I enjoy these, I was a little disappointed as I was hoping to learn more about the seal people and/or selkies. I was also put off by the overuse of the character name Jack, which featured heavily about 3/4 of the way through the book. It seemed to me that in every tale, Jack has lost his father young and was left an only child supporting his mother. True, each of Jack's adventures was different, but I started to become disinterested the moment I saw the name Jack.

Because I did not get the same feeling reading "The Land of the Seal People" as I did "The People Of The Sea: Celtic Legends And Myths: Celtic Tales of the Seal-folk", I doubt I will be re-reading it and I am unsure as to whether I should read Duncan Williamson's other books on a similar topic. I did enjoy reading both books and seeing the connection to the film "The Secret Of Roan Inish" though I did learn that the book on which the movie is based was originally set in Scotland. Overall, I enjoyed the book but I think it might have endeared itself to me more had I read it first, and then Thomson's book.  

Rating: 3½/5.