My Review of The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding by Holly Ringland

On the afternoon that Esther Wilding drove homeward along the coast, a year after her sister had walked into the sea and disappeared, the light was painfully golden.

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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781460759370
ISBN 10: 1460759370
Imprint: 4th Estate AU
On Sale: 30/09/2022
Pages: 560

As she walked, the presence of the sea permeated her senses. It was in front of her, surrounding her, but also in the wind, the salty weight of it. It saturated her senses, catching the light like pieces of mirror, glittering its light on her skin, its taste on her tongue, its heaviness in her lungs and hair. Her mouth watered with longing; there had been a time when barely a day would go by in Salt Bay that she wasn’t in the sea.

'Sisters of Seal and Swan Skins! Seala and Eala!'

The number 7 held a lot of power for Aura...Seven skins…seven tattoos…seven water stories in Aura’s journal.  

Jack and Freya Wilding love their daughter, Aura; a spiritual Australian family living a very different existence. Freya is a tattoo artist, a free spirit herself while dad, Jack is the rock of the family with a very loving heart.  How were they to know the affect of connecting to Celtic and Danish folklore would have on first born daughter, Aura. 

Aura and little sister Esther nicknamed Starry by friends and family were inseparable. They had celestial and mythological stories to bind them together along with 80s punk music mixed in with the magic of Stevie Nicks. However, there were family secrets at the heart of the Wilding family. You see, not everything twinkled like stardust.  A tragic connection between Freya and Aura and Aura and her best friend, Nin was never spoken. It drove Aura away to Copenhagen and The Faroe Islands where she kept a journal of 'seven' stories that read like a mythological road map. For example, the Danish song, Liden Gunver and a book of fairytales entitled, 'Agnete and the Merman' by Helen Nyblom illustrated by Swedish fairytale artist John Bauer.  

When Aura returns home to her family in Australia she is very different.  Her parents can sense something's wrong but they never can seem to reach her.  It isn't until the family tragedy occurs when Aura walks into the sea and disappears. Her parents, sister and close friends, are heartbroken and grieving. They convince baby sister, Esther to take Aura's journal and retrace her steps throughout Copenhagen and The Faroe Islands. 

Without giving anything else away, what author Holly Ringland has done is tell Aura's story through connecting the mythology and folklore tales of family trauma with the Wilding family's unspoken secrets entwined in their own grief.  

Holly Ringland is a masterful storyteller. I loved the happy moments between the Wilding family and circle of friends that centered around the kitchen table with wonderful aussie food, drinks, and yummy desserts. Especially beautiful were the incredible descriptions of the beauty of Australia's beaches, plants, and blue gum trees. Traveling through Copenhagen and The Faroe Islands with Esther, I felt like I was there.  It all sounds incredible to this Native New Yorker.

For more information and to purchase the book go to the author's website, Holly Ringland


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