Picks and Pans Review: The Nature of Water and Air
With its brooding Irish backdrop, lyrical language and shrouded secrets, The Nature of Water and Air is a modern myth. Clodagh, a wild and wily girl whose father and twin sister have died, lives in a run-down mansion on Ireland's east coast with her unstable mother, Agatha.
Clodagh half believes her mother is a selkie: half human, half seal. For her part, Agatha looks haunted, wears a sealskin gown and often wanders down to the sea at night. Consumed by a curiosity "that would grow in me like an affliction," Clodagh edges toward an unspeakable act. At times McBride, a poet, drives her debut novel perilously close to the gothic, but she hits the brakes in time. (Scribner, $13)
Bottom Line: This saga casts a spell