LANDFALL by Betty Levin


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Less rich, less strange, but just as misty as the trilogy Levin began with The Sword of Culann (1973), this has another American girl visiting the Orkney Islands--this time in response to the compelling look directed straight at her by a seal in an educational film. On arrival, Liddy discovers that her island pen pal Brigid has had an accident; Brigid's mother is away at the mainland hospital with her; and Liddy is expected to keep house for an odd and shifting lot. They include: Brigid's resentful older brother Michael (15 to the girls' 13); an itinerant hunter Michael admires as a free spirit but later discovers to be a killer of seals; a visiting philologist who speaks of ancient legends and hints that Liddy and Michael are somehow involved in them; and a Great Man who is leading a diving expedition that Michael is thrilled to join. Liddy sees her seal early on but doesn't recognize him as he rises from the sea in his human form. When he reveals himself in the end--tiding on a foggy sea in a boat of stone, or ice, or memory--the pieces of legend are set in place and Michael more or less accepts his rather cloudy role as Keeper of the sea. Despite the atmospheric staging, though, Liddy's own part in the island affairs--and her relationship with the seal man--seem anticlimactically peripheral.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum