Thursday, February 28, 2013
Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
When you read a Margo Lanagan book, you expect it to both confuse and enthrall you. And THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND delivers that head-spinning, gut-churning, fizzy-brained mixture of “what in the world is going on?” and “did she really go there?” and “oh my goodness she is a genius.”
You can read THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND as a nontraditionally narrated snapshot of an island’s history, with no straightforward plot and no answers to what’s right or what’s wrong in this world. That’ll either confuse the hell out of you, or you will be delighted at the amount of space Lanagan allows readers to bring in their own values and interests to the story. Those who want to find a depiction of the complex meanings of domestic loyalty get that. Or you can also read it for its marvelous craft, its characterization and worldbuilding. It’s a story that gives no clear answers, and is all the more special because of that.
Much like Thisby Island of The Scorpio Races, Rollrock Island feels like an entity of its own. Lanagan skillfully weaves a picture of an island suffocated by yet dependent on its claustrophobic living conditions, neighbors knowing one another’s businesses and knowing who marries who and who’s doing what with who else’s woman. I find stories contained in a small area, where each inhabitant must be developed with his or her unique idiosyncrasies, so much more interesting and realistic than plain-Jane YAs set in Anywheretown, America. The people and the island setting force one another to reveal their imperfect, weird aliveness.
For those who appreciate great writing and are tired of the repetitious plots and characters that appear in so much YA, THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND will renew your faith in the magic of writing.
Knopf Books / Sept. 11, 2012/ Hardcover / 320pp. / $17.99
e-galley received from NetGalley and publisher.