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Sept. 25, 2021

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Pacific Northwest is setting for new novel about ‘selkies’

‘Uncharted Waters,’ free to read online, looks at Celtic myth

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Just as the Pacific Northwest has Bigfoot, other regions have their own tantalizing mythos.

The emerald isles of Scotland and Ireland have “selkies” — seals with the ability to transform into humans.

The mythological sea creature — and other local landmarks, including Centralia and Seminary Hill — now take part in a new online fiction novel called “Uncharted Waters: A Selkie Story,” by local author Andi Lee.

“My family comes from northwestern Europe, specifically Ireland, Scotland, England and Scandinavia,” the author said in a news release. “When they immigrated to America, they brought those traditions — the music, food and stories — with them. This book is an extension of their folktales, which, following our family line, came all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and the American continent to the great Pacific Northwest.”

The novel is being released in installations by chapter. Its seventh chapter was released last Sunday online at www.selkiestory.com, where the novel is free to read.

“Uncharted Waters” begs the question: “What if selkies were real?”

Wild, alluring ‘sea folk’

The novel stars grief-stricken Aveny, who’s tasked alongside her aunt Miriam with following through on the arrangements of her mother’s funeral. While cleaning out her grandmother’s attic, she finds a family heirloom — a selkie skin capable of unlocking the mysteries of the Puget Sound and her own ancestral past.

The situation is complicated by the arrival of two warring ancestors, each vying for assistance and allegiance — and warning of dire consequences should she fail.

“At first, the skin’s transformative selkie power is wildly liberating, but a series of nearly-fatal close calls, masked by a web of lies, soon threatens to tear her family apart. Aveny must choose whether to trade her newfound liberation for safety — or risk everything by following her heart into uncharted waters,” reads the author’s description.

Selkie myths — which tell of transforming “sea folk,” wild and alluring, who often cause the unfortunate soul to fall in love with them — have extended as far north as Iceland and Scandinavia, Lee said. These love stories are often ill-fated as the selkie is inevitably far too in love with the sea to remain on land.

The novel features many beloved Puget Sound and regional landmarks, including Budd Inlet, Burfoot Park, Centralia and Seminary Hill.

“The Pacific Northwest is the most breathtaking and inspiring area I’ve ever been fortunate enough to live in. … It isn’t just the setting of this story; it’s a main character,” Lee said.

“We live in an incredible place that is worth celebrating.”

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