Under These Restless Skies
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Will Somers has always thought himself unlovable. When he encounters a creature of myth and magic, he seizes the chance to finally have a wife and family of his own. Emma is a selkie—one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea—bound to Will by the magic of her kind, and eager to learn about life on land. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, because Will is headed for the court of Henry VIII, to serve as the king’s fool. It’s a glittering, dangerous world, where a careless word can lead to the scaffold and the smallest of gestures is loaded with political implications. Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Can Will protect his newfound love from the dangers that lurk in every shadow? Circa regna tonat: around the throne, the thunder rolls.
Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medallist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist, who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot . . . though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.
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Coming soon The Land of the Shadow
~Legend of the Selkies~
|Undine by Arthur Rackham
The legends of the selkies, or silkies, as they’re sometimes called, originated in Ireland, Scotland
, and Iceland. They were the immortal fae-folk of the sea.
According to the legend, selkies were shape-shifters. In the sea, they took on the form of a seal. When they came to land and shed their magical pelt, they could shift to human form.
The most well-known selkie tale is The Selkie Wife. Will’s grandmother tells him one version of the tale in Under These Restless Skies:
will tell you the tale of the Selkie Wife. Once, a fisherman of the North Sea
happened upon a girl dancing in the waves by the shore. Naked, she was, for
selkies do not know they should be ashamed of their nudity. He found her pelt
tucked into a crevice in the rocks.”
Selkies have a magical bit of fur. When they don it, they change to their true
tried to remember other tales he had heard. “Are they not seals?”
not a seal. A selkie, the fae-folk of the sea. Though they may look like a
seal, they are different. They are creatures of magic, immortal, gentle, and
good of heart. There are tales of them saving drowning sailors by swimming them
to shore, and of bringing to the poor the gold they find on the sea floor.”
steered her back to the story. “He stole her pelt? Whyfore would he do that?”
their pelt is stolen from them, they are bound to he who took it, trapped in
their human form on the land until it is willingly returned to them.
fisherman took the selkie maiden’s pelt, for he was enchanted by her on sight.
Beautiful, selkies are, when they are in their human form. The women-folk are
said to be gentle and kind, excellent wives and mothers. The men-folk are
said—” She looked down at Will’s young face and smiled slightly. “Well, the
men-folk are said to know how to make a woman happy. A lonely maiden or an
unhappy wife may summon a selkie when she sheds seven tears into the sea.
fisherman was a widower with children in need of a mother, so he bound the
selkie maiden by taking her pelt, and brought her home to care for his
children. And a good mother she was, for selkie women love children, even
land-children not of their own.
fisherman kept his Selkie Wife’s pelt locked in a chest, and kept the key
‘round his neck, even as he slept. But even if the trunk had been unlocked, she
could not have taken it back. It must be given back to her, willingly, or she
cannot touch it.”
she happy as the fisherman’s wife?”
shook her head. “The fisherman was a cold man. He would not allow his wife to
swim or frolic and play as selkies are wont, nor said he any loving words to
her. She tried to make him love her, for selkies have powers to that end, but
his heart was hard and empty.
Selkie Wife sat by the window, watching the waves every day, longing to return
to her true home and slowly, she began to pine away. Like all of the fae-folk, the selkies
are immortal, but their hearts are fragile. Sadness can cause them to wither
they are unhappy, they can die of
but they are spirited creatures and it takes little to lift their hearts. A
kind word, a smile, a swim in the sea. Some selkies come willingly to the land
to marry when they fall in love with men on the land, and they are happy. But
their first love will always be the sea.
“One day, the fisherman forgot the key and his children found it. Curious, they unlocked the trunk they had never seen opened, and the Selkie Wife asked the children to give her the pelt inside. Willingly, they did, for they knew not what it was.
when they handed it to her, the Selkie Wife raced down to the shore, shedding
her gown as she did. She donned the pelt and changed into her selkie form to
dive into the waves. Her husband’s children saw her leap and play in the sea,
and though they had not known what she was, and would miss her sorely, they
knew she was home where she belonged and rejoiced for her.
fisherman did not. He was enraged when he found his wife gone. For weeks, he searched
the waves for her, but when a selkie’s pelt is returned, she cannot meet with
the man who took it for seven years.”
shrugged as she took another wad of wool from the basket and began to briskly
rake it with the combs. “I know not. ‘Tis just the enchantment. She was hidden
from his eyes, even if she stood before him. Still, the fisherman searched for
any sign of her. And then, one day, he came upon a selkie man, the Selkie
Wife’s true husband. And the fisherman slaughtered him to spite his wife.”
grimaced. “Did she take her revenge on him when the seven years had expired?”
have heard two versions of the tale. One says that she still roams the waves, mourning
for her lost love, and the other says she takes her revenge on fishermen when
she comes upon them. Any man who drowns is said to be her doing, that she
became a sea-witch, calling up storms to avenge her love.”
do you think?”
She smiled softly, and under her wrinkled face Will saw the ghost of the charming young lass she had been when she first heard the tale. “Methinks she grieves, but does no harm. They are said to be kind and gentle creatures, and ‘tis not their nature to hurt others. Still, ‘tis sad to think of a woman who shall mourn her lost love forever as she roams the cold waves.”