12 year old Josh is furious that his father is sending him away to stay with his aunt Selma and four cousins in their rundown house in Dorset, while his mother is seriously ill in hospital. He has nothing in common with his cousins, with their weird clothes and odd eating habits, and doesn’t want to spend any time in a house with no Wi-Fi and no TV.
To make matters worse, Selma isn’t like any sort of mother Josh recognises, failing to manage the household, disappearing down to the beach at night, and treating the children with a benign, but disinterested neglect.
When Josh finds out his Aunt Selma is a Selkie, a mythical seal-woman trapped on land, her strange behaviour starts to make more sense to him. But when the sinister Millicent Charybdis, who may or may not be a sea witch, approaches Josh with a deal to steal Selma’s seal-skin in return for the magic that will heal his mother, Josh is faced with an impossible dilemma.
This is a story about magic and messed up families, a nod to the kind of writers I loved at that age (such as Alan Garner and Susan Cooper) but told in a contemporary voice.
Special thanks to the wonderful illustrator Jessica Shirley for the use of this image.
Seal Skin will be published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2018.