Book Review: The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding by Holly Ringland

About the Book:

The last time Esther Wilding’s beloved older sister Aura was seen, she was walking along the shore towards the sea. In the wake of Aura’s disappearance, Esther’s family struggles to live with their loss. To seek the truth about her sister’s death, Esther reluctantly travels from lutruwita, Tasmania to Copenhagen, and then to the Faroe Islands, following the trail of the stories Aura left behind: seven fairy tales about selkies, swans and women, alongside cryptic verses Aura wrote and had secretly tattooed on her body.

The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding is a sweeping, deeply beautiful and profoundly moving novel about the far-reaches of sisterly love, the power of wearing your heart on your skin, and the ways life can transform when we find the courage to feel the fullness of both grief and joy.

Published by Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Released October 2022

My Thoughts:

‘You are everywhere,’ Esther whispered. ‘And nowhere.’

This was an utterly magical experience to read. I enjoyed Holly Ringland’s first novel, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, but this one, The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding, was on a whole other level of brilliance. It tells the story of a sister searching for truth, meaning, and a reason to live her best life after the loss of her older sister. It’s a big novel that takes the reader on a long and emotional journey, but I loved every page of it. It was so beautiful to read a novel this long and this engaging, one that seemed like it had the space for the author to really tell the story she was setting out to tell, no rush, no cutting corners, no fitting into a commercial page length; rather, allowing the reader to exist within this other world for as long as it took for the story to be completely told.

Music plays an important part within the telling of this story, as does the meaning people ascribe to the tattoos they get inked into their skin. The mythology of fairy tales is embedded throughout the narrative, with an emphasis on feminist Nordic tales. I adored this aspect of the novel. As well as paying tribute to sisterhood, this novel also pays homage to the trauma of pregnancy loss, and the often-complicated relationships that can exist between mothers and their daughters. This is very much a novel to sink into, to take your time with; to delicately tiptoe through rather than race around the edges in. There is much to be contemplated throughout and the beauty of it lies in the unfolding. What begins as a journey to discover truths about her sister ends in Esther discovering so much about herself. The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding is beautiful, bold, and brilliant. All the stars and then some.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding by Holly Ringland

  1. Pingback: The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding – Holly Ringland | My BookClub Reviews

  2. Pingback: Top 15 Books of my 2022 Reading Year | Theresa Smith Writes

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