Book Review: Selkie – Julia Lund (YA Fiction)


I am thrilled that author, Andrew Updegrove, has taken time out of his busy book launch schedule to read and review Selkie.

Andrew Updegrove: Tales of Adversego

Selkie 110The simple title of Julia Lund’s well-crafted β€œSelkie” may fall strangely on non-U.K. ears, but the legends that it draws on are as old as the peoples that returned to the wind-swept coasts of Scotland in the wake of the receding glaciers. The hold these legends have on their descendants, and the clash that results when fate casts a young woman from away among them, provides the tension the author employs to build a captivating tale of coming of age, keeping faith with family, and self-realization

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: Selkie – Julia Lund (YA Fiction)

      • Timothy Price

        I want to give it a thoughtful review.

        The other reviewer said he thought that you were sparing on your lyrical gifts. That is true, and I think you also shy away from descriptions of things that you believe your readers might fight difficult to deal with. That isn’t bad, since a lot of authors lay it all out with gruesome or explicit details, but I think you could venture into more descriptions of characters and some of the more controversial aspects in your story β€” but it is a fine line.

        When I read the comment about you being sparing with your lyrical gifts, I was reminded of the first time I read William F. Buckley’s spy novels. You probably know who WF Buckley was β€” so you would also know he was a brilliant, very refined gentleman and excellent writer. I started reading his political articles years before I read his spy novels, and I always had to have a dictionary to read his articles because his vocabulary was extensive and word use sophisticated to say the least. But then there where his spy novels with everyday rough around the edges people, some very foul mouthed characters and steamy sex scenes that I was surprised by because they were so out of character for WFB.

        Then I had a revelation, which seems like it should be obvious, when you write good novels, the novels do not have to be in anyway a reflection of who you really are. WFB created wonderful fiction based on the cold war history and made sure the seedy characters were seedy, the rough characters, rough, steamy sex scenes, steamy, etc., and took great liberties with the his protagonist. Since he was an author I knew from another genera, I would have to write him off as bi-polar or schizophrenic if I was to try and explain the man based on the differences between his articles, books like “God and Man at Yale”, his spy novels and children’s books After my initial shock, I admired WFB even more because I saw how he could put his imagination and intelligence into writing difference things for different audiences and create great writing for everyone.

        I have had other authors tell me they worry what people might think of them if they are too graphic, too violent, too sexy, whatever, but I think many of the authors are too cautious and their writing often suffers from being too cautious worrying about what people might think.

        I know your target audience is young people, so you want to be guarded, but that’s where the challenge really comes to be a little less sparing while keeping the content presentable.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I’m not aware of deliberately shying away from details, but I will certainly be mindful of that observation, but you’re right – I do keep in mind the age of my target audience. As far as physical descriptions go, I tend not to give much about the character from whose point of view the story is narrated. This is mainly because, short of having them stare into a mirror/lake/back of a spoon and then describing themselves (which is neither original not something people do a lot), I tend not to use an omniscient voice – stepping back from the character’s perspective to give readers details beyond the character’s scope of knowledge, experience etc – preferring to reveal things to the reader entirely through the main character’s eyes. I give hints and drop things in where it feels natural, but beyond that, I agree that I’m sparing in that area.

    As for worrying that people might judge me for writing particular themes/topics, I’m more concerned that, whatever I write, the quality is good; being judged as a poor writer scares me more than people wondering whether things I write come from personal experience.

    I tend to hold back on the more lyrical, descriptive passages when aiming at a YA audience, as this can really slow down the plot, and one thing I try to do is give readers a reason to keep turning the pages, keeping the pace brisk (whilst hopefully not frenetic). I could spend all day writing descriptions of feelings, places, people – anything, in fact :). However, I have had to reign that in as it can end up being a bit self-indulgent and not at all interesting … I have a much more reflective story line that I plan to write in 2017; I want to hone my writing skills further to do it justice, though.

    As ever, thank you for your support and feedback. Whenever anyone offers opinions, I go back to their thoughts several times, mulling over and then acting upon the observations that ‘stick’.


  2. A wonderful review, Julia. If I wasn’t already reading Selkie, I’d be making a beeline to Amazon to buy my copy.
    I’m a big fan of young adult fiction. I read a lot in that genre, especially the strange stuff. A while back, I read a comment of Stephen King’s stating something to the effect that a good story is a good story, no matter the age of the characters in it. I believe Selkie is a book that appeals to adults as well as teens.
    I agree with Timothy re the details–young adults like reading about the emotional turmoil of the characters…the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. And it’s a fact that teens curse and have sex, (among other things) so I’m not at all squeamish about sprinkling it in–or smearing it all over the page if that’s how the character behaves. Also, teens like to read about characters a few years older than they are, so…
    And I hope you don’t think I’m beating up on Selkie because I’m not; it’s a wonderful, engrossing, mysterious story. Just don’t be afraid to offend. Let it all hang out. (An old expression from the 60s…lol.)
    I haven’t forgotten my promised review when finished. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’re still enjoying the story. I also agree with Stephen King – a good story is a good story …

      Somehow, I’m not surprised you’re a fan of the strange πŸ˜€ and like you, I enjoy YA fiction. When I write, I don’t set out to either offend or not, my aim is to write the stories I have to tell as well as I can (which is never well enough, in my opinion).

      Hope life is treating you well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Julia. I apologise for not getting over here recently. Two novels and two anthologies being written simultaneously … and I’m tired. Well, I’m tired mainly because I’m also editing work for other writers. Anyway, now that I know Selkie is out there, I’m heading over to download it.
    A review will be forthcoming my friend. I didn’t read all of Andy’s because I like to find things out for myself.
    Looking good here, and I promise I’ll make the effort to get back, apart from the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not surprised you’re tired – it sounds as though your plate well and truly overfloweth …

      Lovely to have you visit. If you do ever get the time to actually read Selkie, I hope you enjoy it.


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