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Monday, October 10, 2011

Murkmere by Patricia Eliot

Murkmere was a fun read--a little magic, a little Gothic, a little mystery, a little take-off on the Selkie myth.

Aggie is a village girl who takes a job as companion to the rich ward of the local Master and must go to Murkmere to live.  She is so impressed by the grand old mansion, that she doesn't initially notice its state of disrepair.  The Master is kind, but crippled, and heavily influenced by his steward.  He also carries a deep grief over the loss of his young wife, from which he has never recovered.

Leah, the petulant ward, doesn't want Aggie there and escapes from her presence when she can.  When she must endure Aggie, her tongue is sharp and sarcastic.  It is particularly hurtful when Leah makes fun of Aggie's religious beliefs, calling them superstitious.

Eventually, the two girls manage a better relationship, and Aggie comes to believe that her "religion" is not only superstition, but a superstition imposed by the government to keep the populace under control.  Aggie has access to books that the Protectorate had forbidden through Leah, and the girls' friendship advances until....

The novel is a kind of dystopian novel, in that some great change has resulted in a devolution of science and industrial advancement, but set in a quasi-Victorian setting.  I really liked the change-up of the Selkie myth and look forward to the next novel in the series, Ambergate.

This one is for Carl's R.I.P Challenge.

other reviews:  The Geranium Cat , Bookgeek Reviews,

Fiction.  YA/Gothic/Fantasy.  2007.  352 pages.


  1. This sounds good, and I really like the cover! I haven't read very many good treatments of the Selkie myth so am always on the lookout for more. :)

  2. Jenny - I like the cover, too. Geranium Cat's cover was a girl looking into a pool and seeing the reflection of a swan.

    Which is, of course, a clue to what differentiates this from the traditional Selkie myth and connects it to quite a few swan maiden tales.

  3. This sounds interesting and I have not heard of it before. Good review!

  4. kailana -- I wasn't familiar with either the book or the author until reading Geranium Cat's review.

  5. I like the sound of this one so will be checking it out. Also made a note of the Tibetan series by Eliot Pattison that you made mention of in an earlier post, as they sound rather intriguing.

  6. Cath - In some ways, these books are at opposite ends of the spectrum: a YA Gothic novel in which the religious beliefs are destructive and a novel that looks at the China/Tibet troubles in depth and explores the remarkable faith of the Tibetan monks.