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The Shadowy Horses Kindle Edition
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|Length: 430 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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In this story, the famed Ninth Roman Legion thought to have been lost in Scotland is the center of the story. There are ghosts who quite appropriately speak only Latin, people with "the second sight," tough as nails Scottish lasses (young and old), and men in kilts. I found some of the ending to be a little odd but overall I completely enjoyed this book.
When you cozy up with Kearsley, you know you're getting a historical mystery set in a place that she describes in such loving detail as to make you want to go there immediately (is there a Kearsley tour of the UK out there? I would do that in a heartbeat). There may be ghosts, time travel, paranormal happenings, curses, or all of the above. And there will most likely be an adorable romance happening in it (warning: may also contain tragic romance but that's usually the one set in the past). There is nothing like a Kearsley novel to keep you totally engrossed and make you smile.
One of my favorite things about Kearsley's writing is her ability to completely immerse you into the settings of her novels. This one takes place near Eyemouth in the Scottish Borderlands and the town completely came to life for me. She has a real knack for descriptions and I can see she put a lot of research into this.
There was a lot I enjoyed about this book. The secondary characters were more fleshed out than most authors bother with and I rather liked Jeannie, Robbie and Wally and wish I'd gotten to learn more about them. I also enjoyed everything I learned about archaeology and the Ninth Roman Legion history lesson. Kearsley is good at weaving explanations for historical events into her stories so you never once wonder what's going on.
With all that said, this book sadly did not live up to my expectations. The romance in this book did nothing for me and it felt cheesy and childish at times. It also took forever to happen, so that when it did it just seemed forced. I was disappointed by that because I loved the romance in The Rose Garden. I also expected the paranormal aspect with the Roman Soldier to be a lot more prominent, yet nothing ever really happened with that. The plot was just really flat and the wrap up felt a bit sloppy. I just wanted and expected more to happen, and was hoping for a bit more discovery and revelations to occur during the dig itself.
If you love Kearsley's work, I still recommend this one. Her beautiful writing still makes this quite an enjoyable read, it just wasn't my favorite. I'm looking forward to reading The Winter Sea as I hear that's one of her best.
Many of the usual ghost story elements are present: an old, isolated mansion; an eccentric millionaire; a suspicious relative; dogs and cats snarling and hissing at beings only they can see; the hoof beats of invisible horses in the night. . . . And a romance of sorts. There's much of a to-do about an old maritime disaster, and pirates and smuggling are thrown in. as well. And a murder plot pops up out of the blue.
Unfortunately, all these themes wander aimlessly; none of them come together. (Some spoilers follow.) There is such a mishmash of themes going on, none very interesting and many very annoying. I kept wondering what the book was supposed to be "about." I was bored throughout. The author tries to create an atmosphere of foreboding and danger, going on about previous shipwrecks and the inevitable day when the perfect storm hit, but other than wasting my time, what was the point? The local museum seems to play a prominent part, but doesn't. Then there are the pirates and smuggling. And then, out of the blue, there's a murder attempt. I kept waiting for the Loch Ness monster to come strolling through town.
And the attempts to convey the local Scottish dialect become very tiresome.
Maybe this is supposed primarily to be a romance? It certainly fails on that ground. By some odd coincidence, the protagonist meets nothing but very attractive men, and she seems drawn to all of them, and vice versa. (She seems to be the only available female in town, other than the oddball eccentric millionaire's granddaughter.) It's difficult, especially through the first half of the book, to keep all the various men straight. When she decides she's in love with one of them, it's hard to understand why. She didn't seem very particular. It all seems very frivolous and haphazard and not in the least romantic.
And the story makes absolutely no sense. The sentinel is quite willing to talk, but despite walking around nightly for almost two thousand years, he has not picked up a word of English. So when the archaeologists show up who actually know Latin, a very senseless plot device prevents them from simply asking him what is going on. Oh, come on! I felt angry and insulted.
But then, the sentinel has full knowledge of plots and schemes that he only could have received from eavesdropping on people speaking a language he doesn't understand. Nothing about that character is well thought out. He is as underdeveloped as the rest of the story, and just as uninteresting.