#SundayReview: Song of the Sea

Sam av

Had a bit of a rough week. Still going through all of that lovely personal bullshit that finally just made me snap. That’s how my anxiety works. I’m fine…fine…fine…DECIDEDLY NOT FINE. And when I’m not fine, it becomes “rage passive aggressively and cry into a glass of bourbon,” followed by a couple of days of chocolate and wine and cartoons. Hopefully that’s the last of it, but I’m not feeling very optimistic about it. The problems that led to the anxiety issues are still definitely there, heaped on with a dose of absolutely zero emotional support.

Luckily, Family Video still has that thing where you can rent kids movies for free (but did you know that you can still get charged late fees? Because I didn’t.). My sister and I went there and grabbed a handful of tried-and-true Disney movies.

But while I was browsing, I found this:

Doesn’t that look just beautiful?

I don’t remember exactly what the back of the case said. After a perfunctory glance, I saw the word “Selkie” and thought  “Yep.” I didn’t remember what selkies were, but I knew they were in the realm of folklore and mythology, and that was absolutely enough for me to take it home for free. The internet says this, though:

Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the faeries and save the spirit world.

Here’s a trailer!

The movie did not disappoint. Much in the same realm of children’s fantasy as Miyazaki and Takahata, this film is aesthetically gorgeous, family friendly, emotionally moving, and has the right amount of dark undertones.

In fact, my sister and I at one point had a discussion about how we, as a society, will spoon feed more chaos, depravity, hardship, and destruction to our children than we’ll allow our adults to experience. Odd, isn’t it? Consider films like James & the Giant Peach, where young James lives a life of absolute misery he escapes by some form of dark magic that puts him on a huge peach vehicle to hang out with giant bugs (Seriously…WTF?), or The Lion King, where a much-beloved father figure is betrayed and thrown to his death in front of his young son.

Song of the Sea begins with tragedy. My sister and I held each other (and our wine) as the train completely derailed. After a tale of Selkies, we googled what Selkies actually were. They’re a lot like mermaids and straight out of Celtic mythology (I’m sure Frankie knows them much better than I do!), but they’re also something like the Japanese Kitsune myth. Basically, they are magical creatures that can change their shape into that of a human. Females apparently make wonderful wives. But to capture one and make it your wife, you have to steal its skin and hide it. If it ever finds its Coat, it will leave you and all of its children and go back to the sea. Males, on the other hand, are insanely attractive and apparently prefer to comfort lonely fishwives.

Most tales of selkies are romantic tragedies. This one was no exception.

The story follows the story of a young boy who loses his mother, but out of that sadness, he gains a sister. She has no voice. Actually, for a long time he’s quite mean to her. I suspect it’s because he sort of blames her for the loss of their mother.

Some weird stuff happens (spoilers), and the two of them end up on a bit of an adventure together. They meet all of the characters of their mother’s stories, including fairies who have been turned to stone and the witch who did it. The plot follows Ben and his sister, Saoirse, as they learn about their heritage and how to save the fairies.

It’s beautiful, sad, and excellent.

And for me, this was an adorable introduction to a new mythology. I can always appreciate that.

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).



About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on September 11, 2016, in #SundayReview and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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