The Blue Salt Road
By Joanne M. Harris
About the Author
Joanne Harris MBE, writes under both this name and Joanne M. Harris and lives in Yorkshire. Her books have been published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. This year she celebrates 20 years since Chocolat was first published in the UK. As well as writing books, she also writes stories that she performs to music with her band – Storytime. She plays a bass guitar and studies Old Norse. She also campaigns for libraries and author’s rights.
Passion drew him into a new world and trickery has kept him there.
But as he finds his path in a dangerous life, he will learn his notions of home, and of his people, might not be quite as he believed.
Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is an original modern fairytale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas and drama on the land.
I was fortunate enough to recieve this book as a Christmas present this year. The person who bought it for me knew I was interested in this book and that I have long enjoyed books by Joanne Harris. This book is rather different from my usual reads, but then that’s the beauty of books, they are easily accessible to try something new and to further expand the repertoire and discover something new. Even if a bit of fantasy is not your usual type of book, this book is relatable to and is worth exploring and in my review, you will see why and also you can see what else Joanne Harris writes, as she has written about every genre there is, which is impressive! Over the years I have come to admire her for many different reasons.
A modern fairytale that is nicely split into 7 parts, each beginning with appropriate verse from the Child Ballads. I had not heard of the Child Ballads before, but that’s the thing with even fiction books, there’s always something to take away with you or there’s some new nugget that readers have learnt about. This is a tale for young adults and adults alike, after all, fairytales were originally meant for adults. It is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who also illustrated A Pocket Full of Crows. The detailing is exquisite to say the least with each drawing matching the text very well. Be sure to look just inside the cover too.
The prologue is definitely very interesting and informative as it’s where it is learnt where the story comes from and are invited to take what we need from it and pass the story on. The way it is written is the beginning of being of the enchantment of this book. It is about a Selkie. For those who don’t know a Selkie is a mythical creature that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.
Right from the first chapter the tale sweeps you along in its imagery of the islands as we meet the Grey Seal Clan, more precisely a young man of the clan who likes to hear tales of the Folk, who they live alongside, but there are warnings within those tales he is told to heed about the Folk. Despite warnings to take caution, he likes to observe the Folk. The Folk represent humans and are seen as only being concerned about their boats and harpoons. It is so thought-provoking and with such emotion and with such powerful beauty of the setting, there’s much to take in, but it is far from arduous. It’s a book that fits so well for today’s reading audience and is so relevant and it strikes a chord.
Mostly there are no named characters, except for Flora McCraiceann – one of the Folk, a determined young woman who wants to find a man of her own, and not necessarily one from the island. Down by the sea, there lies a bit of a love story. What love, but what pain can accompany it for both a Folk and a Selkie and what choices they must make, that impacts on their lives and the heart and the dreams don’t always match up and there are lost memories of a past life. It’s all beautifully and tenderly written with vast emotion and even though it is a fairytale, there is a grounding of realism within the book, which is relatable to.
We see the contrast between the Selkies and the Folk. The folk and all their weaponry, shows a darker side of this book, a more predatory, realism way that they had, compared to the magical power the Selkie has for readers and far different from the romanticism of them. The dark turn brings a sadness to this book as there’s a realisation of betrayal. It is all such a rivetting read and I found myself almost mesmerised and being pulled along like the waves of the sea. It’s so incredibly well written, it’s such a joy to read.
Throughout the book there is a Kraken, which is so well depicted to tell this story and is great for the imagination, but is written in a way that will be familiar to readers.
This fairytale, twists and turns as it begins to plunge into a tale of revenge later in the book. There is much that will keep readers wanting to turn the pages to see how it all concludes.
This book, although, not my usual genre, is a mythical masterpiece and really took me by surprise. So, I highly recommend this book, even to those who don’t normally read this genre.
Joanne Harris has been enjoying success and working hard on her writing for decades now. There are so many series and all of which I recommend. I have been reading her books for all those years and intend on continuing to do so.
I would like to thank Joanne for all the times I have met her, mostly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and once at Aye Write in Glasgow and the other in Harrogate at the Raworth’s Literature Festival there. Each time has been a joy. Joanne Harris was the first author I met, when I came to know that authors could be met and signed books. No longer was it a bucket list dream, it became a lovely reality.
Gothic Novels: Sleep Pale Sister, The Evil Seed
Chocolat Series: Chocolat (adapted into an Oscar nominated film),
The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure The Strawberry Thief will be released 4th April 2019.
Novels Set in France: Blackberry Wine, Coastliners,
Five Quarters of the Orange, Holy Fools
Malbry Novels: Gentlemen and Players, BlueEyedBoy, Different Class
Short Stories: Jigs and Reels, A Cat, A Hat and A Piece of String
Cookery: The French Kitchen, The French Market, The Little Book of Chocolate
Books written as Joanne M. Harris:
Norse Books: Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki, The Testament of Loki
Folklore- inspired novellas: A Pocket Full of Crows, The Blue Salt Road
She has featured in many books such as Doctor Who, Dead Letters,
Fearie Tales, Paris to name but a few.
*Please note: This is an impartial review.
Title: The Blue Salt Road
Author: Joanne M. Harris
Illustrator: Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Publisher: Gollancz – an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group LTD
ISBN: Hardback: 978 1 473 22221 2 E-Book: 978 1 473 22223 6
Main Points of Purchase: Available widely in bookshops, libraries and Amazon.