On a squally afternoon in the winter of 1821 Sarah Dyer gives birth to the strangest child ever seen in Van Diemen's Land, a thing more seal than human. The Reverend Mr Kidney at first suspects a virgin birth. Mr Sculley, an anatomist and man of science, hails it as the antipodean answer to the elusive Dutch sooterkin.The pup is a joy to its parents and a welcome companion to the their nine-year-old son, Ned. But when a well-dressed stranger arrives bearing a modest proposal for the infant's future, no-one foresees the trouble that lies ahead. The Sooterkin is a vividly imagined and wickedly funny tale of an upside-down world turned inside out.