Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Selkies & Sirens: Mermaid's Kin?

Mermaids aren't the only fantastical sea creature lurking in the ocean's depths of mythology and folklore. There are countless other finned beings that populate the legends of cultures from all over the world. Here, I am only going to mention two of the more popular ones: the selkies and the sirens.

Selkies are shape-shifting seal people found in Scottish and Irish folklore. They're kind of like werewolves, minus the full moon and that they transform into seals rather than wolves. Selkies are mainly featured in romantic tragedies, usually having to do with a selkie who sheds their sealskin and falls in love with a mortal, only to later find their skin and being forced to return to the sea. If a mortal wishes to summon a selkie to them, they must shed seven tears into the sea. Selkies are seductive and beautiful in their human form, but they find it difficult to maintain an intimate relationship with human beings. Selkies aren't as popular in today's culture, but there's been a few books written about them.

Sirens are also gaining popularity these days. Contrary to popular belief, sirens are not actually mermaids. Or, well, they didn't always used to be. They used to be terrifyingly seductive creatures with the upper bodies of young women and the grotesqely disfigured lower body of a bird. Like mermaids, they lured sailors to a watery grave. Somewhere along the way, these bird-women evolved into the finned version we've all come to know and love to this day. With books like Siren by Tricia Rayburn and the upcoming book that sounds just as creepy as it sounds good, Siren's Storm by Lisa Papademetriou, sirens are everywhere these days. And, to me, that's a good thing.

So, have any of YOU read any selkie/siren books?


  1. Seven Tears into the Sea, and Tracy Deebs' Tempest Rising, are some amazing mer/selkie books!

    Have you ever read Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli?

  2. Lauren -

    Sirena is a beautiful story! I actually reviewed it on here a while back. You should check it out! :)