Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

The Shadowy Horses
Rating: 5 out of 5
Title: The Shadowy Horses
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Series: No
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402258704
ISBN-13: 978-1402258701

Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea. Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades. Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason 

Sheree from The Eclectic Reader recently reviewed this book and I was intrigued. I followed her link to Susanna Kearsley's web page and read an excerpt of the first chapter and I was hooked. I immediately jumped on kindle and downloaded my copy ready for my holidays.

What did I liked
The writing was just enchanting. The author manages to write in a whimsical almost magical way. It is easy to imagine yourself walking beside the characters across the Scottish country side. Seriously the writer does such a good job you really feel like you are standing right next to them watching everything happen.

I did do a google search while reading this book for some images of Eyemouth Scotland. This helped set the scene better in my mind. I was not surprised when I found that the image I had in my head was very similar to reality. Look at these images aren't they gorgeous? wouldn't you want to be there?

Eyemouth Scotland Coastline
Eyemouth Scotland Coastline

Eyemouth Scotland Harbour
Eyemouth Scotland Harbour

This is a wonderful blend of mystery, historical fiction, romance, archeology, and a little paranormal. Not one factor over powers the other. All the elements come together and merge into a well paced story. The romance aspect is very G rated, it is a small aspect too but not the whole story and I think the most racey it gets was a kiss - on the lips!

Normally I don't like ghostie stories and avoid reading them (or watching movies). But this was not scary and wont leave you scared to turn off the light. In fact I rather liked the ghost in this story. He was comforting in a way. But the ghost element did give the book a haunting (har har yes pun was intended) feeling.

The other human, or still living, characters were just as interesting. Peter as the older professor who is eccentric but lovely. David the love interest is tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, and speaks with a Scottish accent. Fabia the vain and manipulative grand daughter of Peter. There is also Verity's spoiled ex and the house keeper (whose son is the ghost whisperer). All thrown in into the one place and it makes for some interesting dialogue and interactions. There are many more characters all who all add to the story. I did like David's mum she was a hoot.

The Scottish language was a little difficult to read at first but for me it was not a big deal.  I felt the author dealt with the language barrier well, by having the outsider character checking the meaning of words in a scots dictionary she had been given. It didn't feel forced or a contrived way to get around the language barrier but a realistic way to address the language barrier. I am glad the author wrote the Scottish characters speaking mostly in their language (or a mix of theirs and English), otherwise the novel would have felt weird being set in Scotland and not a single person from there not speaking in their language.

I wish I could pin point exactly what I loved about this book, the closest I can get is it just resonated with me. Was it the easy flow of the writing? the topic of archaeology? or a roman legion? the scots language (and yes apparently it is scots not Scottish in this part of the world)? even maybe the supernatural aspect? I have no idea. Everything just jelled and I couldn't put this book down.

All in all this was just an enjoyable book to read that totally transported me to another place. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this sort of story.

This was my first Susanna Kearsley book and it wont be my last.

If you would like to know more about Susanna Kearsley and read an excerpt of her book please visit her website.

I also put some images from Eyemouth Scotland and some of the buildings mentioned on my Pinterest board Images Relating to Fiction Books. Hope you enjoy them.

Susanna wrote an interesting guest post for the blog Passages to the Past where she talks about her research process for this book.

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