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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Blood On the Tartan

Blood On the Tartan
by Chris Holmes

A Woman Fighting a Cause…

Catherine Ross rallies her neighbors to openly resist the mass evictions, which empty the glens of her homeland of people and replace them with sheep.

On the Other Side of the Law…

Constable Ian MacGregor, sworn to uphold the law, finds duty conflicts with love. There's only one woman for him - Catherine. However, he is torn by that love and his sense of honor.

The Coming Storm…

Ian must decide: to protect his beloved or obey his orders. Will Catherine's truest love become her greatest adversary, or will they both perish in the coming conflict – the Highland Clearances.

Holmes' new historical and very Scottish romance, Blood On the Tartan, is the classic tale of capitalist landowners against a community roused by a single brave underdog. The tale begins with a gripping and extremely visual prologue, where each side is personified, but in a rather black and white, good-versus-evil way. This gives the reader a strong sense of theme, and also, creates a great feeling of empathy within the reader.

Only at the start are the two sides so simply portrayed; Holmes goes on to create characters of great depth and feeling on each side.

Catherine Ross' connection to her home and the land is apparent from the start. She watches the robins playing in the garden and the cows wandering the distant braes(fields) of her neighbor. When she meets truncheon-toting Ian MacGregor, the new constable, she is alarmed but reminds herself of 'Highlander' hospitality. Her past, hopes for life, and love of home blend into a strong and admirable woman. Ian is no less admirable, though it takes a while to find the best in him. Throughout, these primary characters symbolize a people who struggled through a horrible nineteenth century event. Readers will uncover the impact of the quality of a love so strong it challenges the beliefs of a people known to fight for their beliefs ... and even patriotism in a land of extraordinary patriots.

The plot is exceptionally well done, even if not entirely original. Specific events are not easily predictable, although the larger picture is, to some degree.

Powerful characters and richly detailed descriptions characterize Holmes' work. Exceptional visual details, and the choice of specific words; 'hoarfrost' 'cieldh' for celebration, the valleys or 'Strath,' the peat bogs,all enhance the flavor and develop a sense of the time of this tale. Well done.

Review by Snapdragon