You should probably know, if you’ve been here a while, that I love little more than a good fantasy of manners, and this fun novella is a great start to a new series that looks like it’ll be exactly my cup of tea!
Book: The Selkie Scandal by Rosalie Oaks
Read before: No
Release date: 21st March 2021
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge via Book Sirens. All opinions my own.
I think this is one of those reads where you’ll be able to tell instantly from the blurb if it’s going to be your cup of tea or not! If the mix of mystery and humour in an alt-Regency setting appeals to you, then I’m pleased to report The Selkie Scandal does exactly what you’re hoping for. At just over 100 pages, it’s a fast-paced and fun little introduction to a series I’m really looking forward to continuing with.
We have two viewpoint characters, the Earl of Beresford and Jaq, the selkie prince. At first glance, Beresford is a hero in the Bertie Wooster mould (much less silly and more competent, but someone who simply seems to fall into ridiculous situations and mostly solves issues by being a good egg), while Jaq is a bit more of a disaster, a hard-partying playboy whose troubles tend to be his own fault. They complement each other nicely as leads, and it’s nice to see that even in such a short book, it becomes clear that there’s more than meets the eye with both of them. Jaq’s sister Seraphine is the third major player of the book, and though we don’t get any chapters from her perspective, she was probably my favourite of them all, with her fun combination of naivety and daring. I know that Beresford and Jaq will be key in the rest of the series, but I hope Seraphine comes back too!
The story rollicks along at a fine pace, and I found myself reading the whole thing in one sitting – it’s definitely the kind of fun and frothy sort of thing you can happily curl up with for an afternoon. There’s a definite PG Wodehouse feel in the light-hearted tone, which I enjoyed a lot! Occasionally the humour felt a little laboured – I thought the famous Beresford Jam was leant on a few too many times – but on the whole, it’s nice to read something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a romp through and through!
Overall, this is a very fun introduction to a new fantasy of manners series. I think the mix of mystery, humour, and fantasy of manners would definitely suit fans of Tansy Rayner Roberts’s Teacup Magic series, or those looking for something like Gail Carriger’s Soulless (though this is less steampunk, I think it has similar vibes). It definitely has me intrigued to pick up The Lady Jewel Diviner – four out of five cats!