The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

8 Feb
Reading time has been limited lately, so as I make my way through His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, I’m mining some of my older reads for reviews. The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley is one my favorites. Forever. It is one of my ultimate comfort reads, right along with Miss Read. This was the one that started my kick of reading all Susanna Kearsley’s novels – I’ve read most of them, methinks, and The Rose Garden is next on my list.

If I had to conjure up a perfect read for myself, I would probably come up with The Shadowy Horses. There’s some love story, a whole bunch of Scottish atmosphere, archaeological tidbits, some supernatural freaky stuff, and a lot of mystery. Lured by the promise of a “perfect job”, Verity Grey (Best.Name.Ever.) leaves London and her job at the British Museum for the wild shores of Scotland to help on an archaeological dig. The dig leader believes he may have found an ancient Roman campsite. Verity, all of 29 years, is eager for some adventure, and the chance to participate in a possibly legendary dig is too appealing. David Fortune, a reserved archaeologist also on the dig, is a bonus. Soon though, Verity begins to be troubled by a boy’s story of a ghostly Roman sentinel and the sounds of horses thundering through the site during the night. To find out the true story of the site and to settle the claims of ghosts, Verity must unravel what really happened in this remote area of Scotland.

Verity is just completely kickbutt. She’s smart, reasonable, direct, and thoughtful. She’s not afraid to confront uncomfortable circumstances, but neither is she willing to rush into danger without thought. David also is a wonderful character to invest time in: he’s complex and layered, with a mysterious element of his own. Me gusta. Really, though, what ties it all together for me is the atmosphere and setting. Beautiful, drizzly, misty Scotland plays front and center here and is almost a character of its own. And I don’t want to give any plot points away, but I learned some fascinating Roman history here as well.

Fans of Mary Stewart’s gothic mysteries would love Susanna Kearsley – there’s the same emphasis on building atmosphere, a gentle but tragic love story, fascinating female heroines, and enough creepy mystery to keep you turning pages, but not enough to actually freak you out. I would nominate this as a perfect book to read when you’re under the weather, having a rotten day, or just need something to remove you from your everyday life. And if you decided to eat some chocolate while doing so, well, that’s perfection.

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2 Responses to “The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley”

  1. mjspringett February 9, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Just my kind of book, i will download immediately, thank you MJ

    • Amanda February 9, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      Oh yes, do MJ! But be prepared to get hooked on her novels. 🙂

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