95 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2000
"The Shadowy Horses" by Susanna Kearsley was my first book by this author, and the comparisons to Mary Stewart are wonderfully accurate. I am already ordering her other books...from me, the highest compliment. Ms. Kearsley writes in the first person, and manages to pull you right into the story, which is no small feat. Her writing style is fluid and descriptive, and she displays a talent for building suspense at just the right pace. Her characters (secondary as well) are well-drawn, likable, and interesting, and her quick-moving plot makes you want to keep turning the pages. One tiny, tiny criticism (but perhaps this is simply a result of my wanting the story to continue long after it was finished): her ending seemed rushed, and I wanted a bit more detail on the ghostly Sentinel and his tragic story, and that of the Ninth Legion...in another book, perhaps??? My final assessment: well done, Ms. Kearsley, well done!
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2010
Then you must read this!!! The Shadowy Horses is, like the best of Mary Stewart, a blend of suspense, literature and romance, but without the dated 1960s feel of Mary Stewart's books. (Although I'm sure 30 years from now, readers will talk about the "dated 1990s feel" of Susanna Kearsley's books. Ha!)
The Shadowy Horses is set in a small town on the east coast of Scotland and is, as mentioned above, a blend of literature, romance and suspense. Kearsley's writing is masterful, as she manages to tell a modern tale of a haunted archaeology site without ever going over the top. At several points the characters actually attempt to communicate with the ghost of a Roman legionnaire, and not one time did I ever want to roll my eyes; quite a feat for a writer, in my opinion.
The weakest part of this book -- and the reason I am not giving it 5 stars -- is the suspense element. The suspense is so mild as to be almost non-existent. So if you're looking for a spine-tingling, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type of book this is definitely not it.
The romance is low-key, also, which is fine with me. But again, if you're looking for a heart-stopping, blood-racing, titillating love scene you're not going to find it here. Nevertheless, the romance is there, as the heroine is faced with not just one but two admirers (three, if you count an eight-year-old boy), both drop-dead gorgeous (we should all be so lucky, huh?). And one of them -- I don't want to say who as that could be a spoiler -- did make my heart beat just a little bit faster. :)
Kearsley's greatest strength is in her dialogue. This is the aspect where many writers of fiction -- especially those writing in a contemporary setting -- lose me. So many authors can't seem to get the dialogue right; I don't know if it's from trying too hard, or what, but they end up making everybody sound overwrought and as though they just need to take a tranquilizer and lie down for a while. But Kearsley's dialogue is spot-on; it is smooth but at the same time it absolutely sparkles. It is witty, and in a couple of places even laugh-out-loud funny.
This is a highly entertaining and page-turning book that will completely transport you to another time and place for a day or two (or however long it takes you to read it). If you're like me it won't take long, as I could hardly put the book down and stayed up waaaaaay too late last night to finish it. I can't remember the last time a book made me do that....
This was my first read by Susanna Kearsley but definitely won't be my last.
79 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 1999
I had a really bad day at work and I was exhausted and even playing with my three year old son couldn't completely close down my thoughts. Then, in the bath, I picked up The Shadowy Horses and got back into it (I'd started it the night before.) Honestly, I sighed OUTLOUD. It was complete escape. I recommend this book to fans of Mary Stewart or Barbara Michaels -- anyone looking for a really good gothic suspense.
56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 1999
I'm not sure if I should thank Ms. Kearsley or be mad at her. I stayed up two nights in a row because I couldn't put her book down. The story was wonderful, and the characters were realistic. I have been looking for an alternative to Barbara Michaels' books, and I think Ms. Kearsley is it. My only suggestion to her would be-- write faster!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2010
In the Shadowy Horses, Verity Grey is working on a dig in Scotland for an eccentric archaeologist, Peter Quinell, who has been looking for evidence of the missing ninth legion of an ancient Roman army for many years, with little success. Her ex-boyfriend, Adrian is also on the same project, as well as an attractive local scot, Davy. They have little proof that the excavation is going to turn up their desired finds, little support from the academic community, and ghostly presences to complicate things further....as well as Verity's own feelings for Davy.
This is an excellent, fast moving book that I was sorry to see end. The descriptions of life in a small Scottish coastal village were excellent and very true to life. The characters were colourful and likeable and it is not at all hard to picture them at the Ship Hotel with a pint or gathered around the kitchen having a hearty Scottish breakfast.
Pour a cup of tea and make plans to curl up for a day by the fire reading this book, you won't regret it.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2000
I thought this was an excellent book. I love a good mystery. I also like a little of the supernatural. This had both and they blended well. There was also a romantic thread through it, which was refreshing, in not being explicit about sex. The Scottish atomosphere throughout the book was charming, and made it all the more interesting. There was just enough Scottich brogue in it to make you feel like you were right there with the characters. Overall, a great read and I would highly recommend it to all who wish to read a really good book. Plan on getting her two other books to read, and I will definitely be looking for future books by Susanna Kearsley.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By far the best of the latest crop of Romantic-Suspence writers, Ms. Kearsley certainly writes a winning story. Her heroine Verity is fresh, a real 21st century woman with a real career, tangible hopes and dreams for the future and best of all her hang-ups are believable giving motivation to her actions and introspections in the course of the novel. The setting is gothic in its unsettling unconventionality. One meets the other players immediately as one would meet aquaintances at a luncheon. The reader is presented with the characters and left to draw his or her own conclusions; there is no excessive ponderings voiced sotto voce by the narrator. The men are real men and I found myself intrigued by the nuances in their dispostions in the way I had been charmed long ago by the bantering between the lead female and male in Victoria Holt's major offerings. The romantic attraction between the main characters is fun and piquant; I found myself rereading certain passages to thrill again at the wordplay. The supernatural note adds a realistic New Age spice that gets beyond the usual Thornfield scenario with the old house and its imposing secrets. All in all, I found "The Shadowy Horses" a great read and as close to the old masters, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt as any author could hope to get. I look forward to reading Kearsley's next publications and hope that "The Gemini Game" and "Undertow" is reissued/republished in the United States.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2004
There are not very many suspenseful moments in this book but it is an interesting read about archaelogy mixed in with ghosts. It felt like it was building up to something but I found the climax rather anti-climatic.
That said, I still enjoyed and was glad I read it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
When Verity Grey is asked to Eyemouth, Scotland by an ex boyfriend for an archaeological job., she arrives at Rosehill not quite knowing what to expect. She meets her boss, Peter Quinnel, and is told he is digging for the lost Ninth Legion of Rome. Furthermore, he knows it is there because a little boy who is psychic saw a phantom sentinel in the field and has communicated with him. Skeptical, Verity has to see for herself what the little boy is capable of before she is a believer. Add to that the sound of running horses she hears every night (where there aren't any) and the sounds of somebody moving around (who isn't there) and you have the makings of a good ghost story.
Verity also meets archaelogists David Fortune, who she is instantly attracted to. Let me say up front that while there is a romance, it is very much in the background. It's almost as if the author got bashful when they came together and skipped over what went on between them. If passion and explicit sex scenes are your thing, better skip this one. If you like a ghost story with a gothic feel, this book is for you.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Like others, I'm a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley's Winter Sea and Rose Garden. I was slightly disappointed with this outing because she's telling several stories (which she usually does well), but the main plot gets lost.
Shadowy Horses begins as a classic ghost story. The black cat hisses, it can see something our heroine does not. The plot progresses until about midpoint with a psychic boy providing clues. Then the love story takes over and overshadows the ghost story. In the very end, a mystery (with only a few prior clues) unrelated to the ghost story suddenly gets introduced and resolved. Our ghost makes his requisite final appearance with an unsatisfying explanation as to why. The hero and heroine realize they're soul mates.
Because Ms. Kearsley set this book up as a ghost story, you might be disappointed to find that it's not quite. The main action takes place between the archaeologist, Verity Grey, and her love interest, the big Scot with piercing blue eyes and black hair who looks great in a kilt. (It's a bit cliched.) The psychic boy's parents (him a philandering drunk, her a caring soul) should be constantly at odds, yet they never interact.
Still, it's an enjoyable read and I feel I'm being a bit hard on Ms. Kearsley because I had such high expectations. If I'd not read her other books, I'd probably give it four stars.