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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (413 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia


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.

Archaeologist Verity Grey, coaxed to a dig by Adrian, a former boyfriend and often a fellow worker, finds a world apart—a world rich with mystery, ghosts and, psychic energy, besides all the incredible people that open up a whole new world for her.

Eyemouth in Scotland, steeped in the lore and the blood of past people that inhabited the land, welcomes Verity into its midst and whispers secrets to her in its mist. Even before she arrives in Eyemouth, things begin to happen. Stuck on a stopped bus, she looks across the moors. Whether it’s the wild wind of Scotland’s Borderlands, the restless spirits of those who’ve come before, or Verity’s imagination, the man striding around bracken and thorn looks like “a spectre from a bygone age, a fearless border laird”. But he is, in truth, just an ordinary man in his thirties, wearing modern jeans and leather jacket. Then again, up close, he is not so ordinary. David Fortuna, broad-shouldered and beautiful, with a Scots brogue hard for Verity to understand, a brogue that vanishes when he realizes she is English, is captivating.

David, while a native of the area, is an archaeologist who lectures at Edinburgh University. He will be working on the same dig she is going to. He soon finds that Verity’s impulsiveness, independence, vivid imagination, and the confusion that seems to follow her around impact not only the dig but the lives of all she meets. He finds her much like his mother, Granny Nan, whom all agree is trawn, meaning one who delights in being difficult and obstinate, yet in a most delightful way. The gentle, slow development of their relationship is revealed in exquisite fashion.

Verity brings energy, expertise, and love of many kinds to her new job. Her name is so true to her personality--Everity, truth, real and enduring.

She connects with characters, both primary and secondary, in ways that endear her to them and them to her. She and the loveable, psychic Robbie relate to each other at once and they connect with the Sentinel. More than connecting to just live characters and the ghost Sentinel, she hears the galloping horses at night, feels the cold presence of the ghost, and feels that presence when special events related to the ghost happen.

She also embraces Peter Quinnell, the eccentric Irishman who believes with all his heart the last marching camp of the Ninth Roman Legion is on his Rosehill estate. Some say he is mad, but he is intelligent, wealthy, and determined to gain respect from the archaeological community, that heretofore has discounted his work. He brings a diverse group together to make it happen. His story, though sad, has a sense of destiny being played out to it. He believes in Robbie’s unwavering declaration that the ghosts of the Sentinel, who was with the Ninth Legion, walks about and tries to talk to Robbie.

The many secondary characters like Adrian; Granny Nan; Fabia, Peter’s granddaughter; Brian, Robbie’s dad; Jeannie, Robbie’s mom and the cook/housekeeper for Peter play dynamic roles in the unfolding of this mesmerizing story.

Susanna Kearsley weaves together a fantastic tale full of humor, historical facts, lore, legends, psychic phenomena, modern-day smuggling, and human beings interacting with each other—interactions that are full of twists and turns. Her use of symbolism charms the senses, especially the story of the swan of Eyemouth River. She tells the story in first-person and takes the reader along for every moment of frustration, fun, fear, falsehood, and most especially for the awakening of a forever faithful love.

The Shadowy Horses is a keeper that can be enjoyed again and again. It has layers and layers of actions, relationships, and emotions to be pondered.