Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-874-7
Fantasy Romance, 2008
In 1805, somewhere off the Donegal Coast in Ireland, Lady Theodosia Barrett has to steal the skin of a selkie for Queen Dubheasa, the ruler of the Dark Fin-Folks, or her father’s research on selkie vampires – yes, selkie vampires – will be exposed. Theo is worried that should her father’s research be exposed, the man will be ridiculed by the academia or worse, be taken seriously enough for some kind of confrontation to take place between the vampire selkies and human beings.
Theo carries out the ritual that will grant her an audience with a selkie, upon which she can ask the selkie for a favor and in return she will become his mate. She ends up meeting up with the selkie vampire King Roane – not that she knows who he is or that he is a vampire at that time – on the Vanishing Isle of Cu Mara. She sleeps with him, then tries to stake him in the heart (Theo, you see, is a vampire hunter – and no, don’t ask), and leaves with his pelt.
Ah, but Roane survives the attack and a year later, he’s back. He’s leading his folks in a war against the Dark Fin-Folks who have enraged him by killing one seal too many. Meanwhile, Theo didn’t give Roane’s pelt to Queen Dubheasa for reasons only she and the author will know, so Queen Dubheasa has placed a price on poor Theo’s head. Roane feels obligated to protect Theo due to her father’s allegiance with the selkies so he’s showing up in her life again whether she likes it or not. Theo’s parents are pushing her to marry King Roane. She has no idea that he is the vampire she almost killed a year ago so when she begins to fall for her future husband, she’s in for a surprise indeed – the surprise being, of course, that she won’t mind that much that her beloved has fangs.
The problem with this one is that it is a short story, therefore there are some head-scratching moments such as Theo’s relative ease at accepting Roane’s vampire nature and her ultimate decision at the end. She’s a vampire hunter, right? So what makes her so sanguine about getting into bed with a vampire? Ms duBarry doesn’t really give a satisfying answer in this story as far as I am concerned. There are also way too many details crammed into this story with many aspects of the story never being fully developed so there are some loose ends and question marks when the story ends.
The best thing I can say about In the Shadow of the Selkie is that it is very readable due to the polished prose. The characters are likable types, not too irritating, but they are on the underdeveloped side. Ultimately, the short story format of this story is its greatest weakness. The author doesn’t have enough room to make this story live up to its interesting premise.