The Shadowy Horses

14296469Rating: 4 Stars
Published: (First published in 1997) Reprinted October 2012
Genre: Mystery // Paranormal // Fiction

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. (Summary taken from Goodreads)

Susanna Kearsley is a favorite of mine (if you haven’t figured that out already) and this book certainly did not disappoint.

I’d never learned the knack of leaping out of bed on dismal mornings.  A quick look through unfocused eyes, a mental groan of protest, and I’d pull the blankets back up round my ears and wriggle purposefully into them, trying to reclaim the drifting realm of sleep.

Another reader pointed out to me (on Instagram) that Robbie grows up to be Rob in The Firebird.  I had no idea! Now, of course, I want to reread that (which means I really should reread The Winter Sea, too).

I love learning about things I know nothing or nearly nothing about.  I think Kearsley does a wonderful job of informing the reader about a process without being overwhelming with too much detail or boring.  Basically, the minor info dumps didn’t bother me in the least.

Another book set in Scotland–yippee!!  Reading about Scotland always makes me smile.  I can’t help it.  They went to a céilidh! I’ve been to a céilidh! (I’ve also tried the tiniest bit of haggis– I have yet to form an opinion on it.)  Though, I have to say, I wish there was more detail about the dancing and the kilt wearing.  There wasn’t nearly enough. Because Scottish men in kilts–oh boy.

Jeannie sent him a motherly look.  “If you were chocolate,” she told him, “you’d eat yourself.” By which I gathered she was calling him conceited.

I love how classic Kearsley’s writing is.  I don’t miss technology.  The only thing that’s really missing is the popularity/usage of cell phones and it’s really not needed.

Some of the turns of phrase in Scots (and British English) was a little hard to follow if it wasn’t explained but those were few and far between.

I love the vastly different personality types.  Everyone was written to be so tangible.  I wanted to crawl into the story and live with them (like I do with all her books, actually).  I enjoyed the romance between Verity and Davy even though it was excruciatingly slow. Robbie was pretty adorable, I wanted more of him.  I could have done with some more inclusion of the Roman Sentinel as well.  Adrian was a bit grating but I (unfortunately) know guys like him so I can’t say he’s not realistic!

“I was saying,” he contradicted me, “that we’re being attacked by an army of six-foot-tall killer penguins, and since you didn’t bat an eye at that, I can only conclude you weren’t listening.”

There was an awful lot of description.  In particular, I’m referring to describe of the cats that lived Rosehill.  I would have liked less only because I kept thinking they were going to see the ghost and freak out,  instead they mostly sat in Verity’s lap.

In terms of plot,  I didn’t entirely enjoy the climax-conflict because it almost came out of nowhere.  Clearly there were clues leading up to it but I felt like it could have used some explanation on the part of one particular character.  You can still understand the motives but they’re glossed over.  I would have liked some in depth reasoning.  It didn’t bother me too much but I could see how some might be more frustrated.

Over all, reading Kearsley’s books just make me happy.  I definitely like some more than others but there hasn’t been one I haven’t at least enjoyed.  I just have a couple more of her novels to read and I absolutely cannot wait for Bellewether in 2017. If only it were being released sooner!

Have you read any of Kearsley’s books? Which one is your favorite?


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