The Blue Salt Road Review

Review by Nathanael

As popular as folk tales and myths have become in recent years, it’s quite rare for stories based on them to imitate their style and format. But when picking up Joanne M. Harris’s The Blue Salt Road, this is the first thing one notices. Harris’s story is an extended version of a traditional Scottish legend, that of the shape-shifting selkie. Like most folk tales, the details vary with each telling; Harris crafts her own version of the world in this work.

The book’s tone reflects an oral tradition; it feels as though a grandmother is leaning over you, telling the story at bedtime. Although the style lacks fluidity, this adds to its authenticity. It doesn’t feel like a perfect narrative with thoroughly reviewed prose, but an impulsive story from the heart. Even the book’s seven sections feel as though they’re divided up to be told on different nights, a week-long tale. 

The story maintains the signature ambiguity and mystique of a fairy tale. Several characters aren’t named, serving functional roles in the story over complex characterization. Its honest themes and developments belie no obtrusive literary complications. The Blue Salt Road is a simple tale, and it’s best that way. You can let yourself mindlessly sink into its magical world, carefree as a delighted child.

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