A Sweet Sting of Salt: A Review
352 pages, Paperback
Expected publication April 9, 2024
How far would you go to rescue the person you loved? This is the central question for the protagonist, Jean, in Rose Sutherland's stunning debut A Sweet Sting of Salt. One cold winter's night, Jean is awoken by a scream outside her cottage and finds Muirin, the mysterious pregnant wife of Tobias Silber, in labor and freezing in the cold. After ushering her inside, it isn't long until Muirin's baby is born, but Jean can't help to wonder why she hadn't known about the pregnancy as the village's only midwife. Why had Tobias kept it a secret? And where had Muirin been trying to run to? All these questions consume Jean, and the truth seems to be way more sinister than she could have imagined.
This queer retelling of The Selkie Wife kept me hooked from the beginning. Even though I knew the entire time what was really going on with Muirin and her husband, the story kept me on my toes and I feared for Jean in her fight to get her love to safety. Sutherland is a talented storyteller and has no problem transporting readers to a time long past. The setting was executed splendidly and I can't wait for what's next from the author. Retelling a folktale and keeping it fresh can be a daunting task, but Sutherland was surely up to it.