Once a young woman uncovers a dark secret about her neighbor and his mysterious new wife, she’ll have to fight to keep herself—and the woman she loves—safe in this stunning queer reimagining of the classic folktale “The Selkie Wife.”

Murder, homophobia, confinement, domestic abuse, animal death (off-page).

When a sharp cry wakes Jean in the middle of the night during a terrible tempest, she’s convinced it must have been a dream. But when the cry comes again, Jean ventures outside and is shocked by what she discovers—a young woman in labor, drenched to the bone in the bitter cold and able to speak barely a word of English.

Although Jean is the only midwife for miles around, she’s at a loss for who this woman is or where she’s from; Jean can only assume that she must be the new wife of the neighbor up the road, Tobias. And when Tobias does indeed arrive at her cabin in search of his wife, Muirin, Jean’s questions continue to multiply. Why has he kept his wife’s pregnancy a secret? And why does Muirin’s open demeanor change completely the moment she’s in his presence?

Though Jean learned long ago that she should stay out of other people’s business, her growing concern—and growing feelings—for Muirin mean that she can’t simply set her worries aside. But when the answers she finds are more harrowing than she ever could have imagined, she fears she may have endangered herself, Muirin, and the baby. Will she be able to put things right and save the woman she loves before it’s too late, or will someone have to pay for Jean’s actions with their life?

Don't just take our word for it...

“A gorgeous tale of sapphic yearning laced with a slow-building sense of Gothic dread, Sutherland’s captivating debut is an intensely beautiful experience you won’t soon forget.”
– Paulette Kennedy, bestselling author of The Witch of Tin Mountain

“Rose Sutherland’s debut, A Sweet Sting of Salt, brilliantly weaves the stark atmosphere of coastal nineteenth-century Nova Scotia as a complement to lonely midwife Jean and otherworldly Muirin. Sutherland’s thoughtful prose mirrors the environment, dotted with echoes of Brontëan romantic longing—but with heroines who have the inner strength to determine their own happy endings.”
– Maureen Marshall, author of The Paris Affair

“A Sweet Sting of Salt masterfully combines rich historical detail with an atmospheric, poignant romance between two unforgettable women that will sweep readers off their feet. For fans of feminist retellings and queer fairy tales, Sutherland’s debut is a must-read.”
– Allison Epstein, author of Let the Dead Bury the Dead

Taste the very first page

November 1832

The ship was burning.

“Sorry . . . ?” Jean looked up from drying her hands on a worn tea towel, frowning at the non sequitur.

“Last night, the ship was burning.” Ida Mae Eisenor waved toward the window over the table in her kitchen as she sat her- self up on the sofa. “The moon was full. Everyone says the ghost ship burns in the bay on full-moon nights. Did you see it, out where you are?”

“Oh, sure.” Jean closed the lid of her basket, solid and real. “Had the captain in for tea, too, don’t you know?” She rolled her eyes as she spoke, teasing.

“Jean Langille!” Ida leveled her pinky and pointer fingers at Jean, warning off the evil eye. “You oughtn’t say such things! You’ll have the devil at your door.” With that, she stood, shook her skirts back into place, and went to poke a finger into her dough, testing to see if it had risen enough to go in the oven. When it was done baking, Ida would run a knife ’round the finished loaf and lift it out, rather than turning over the pan and…