A Strange Scottish Shore
By: Juliana Gray
Narrator: Gemma Massot
PRHA | Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Romance – Action & Adventure
Release Date: September 19, 2017
12 Hours and 18 Minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The acclaimed author of A Most Extraordinary Pursuit brings a dazzling voice and extraordinary plot twists to this captivating Scottish adventure…
Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.
But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet.
If, like me, you think it is hard to keep Scottish history straight from Henry VIII forward then you’ll be okay with this one because you won’t even have to wonder if the story is accurate. As the author points out in her notes there’s not a lot of data available. So, that is one obstacle to historical fiction we don’t have to worry about. Then, the author takes on time travel, the most difficult of paranormal events to handle as magic is confounded by a subject physics has taken on in detail. Except that she doesn’t take on the “existing as two entities in one instant” paradox, the author handles the event cleverly, by assigning it to people who have the power via a theistic gift. And with the theistic intervention the author gains a lot of latitude in handling the great mystery of sending people forward or back in time.
The interweaving of the selkie mythology, time travel, and a wet suit is very clever.
What she does well is the suspense and the “slow reveal” who is the bad guy? Could it even be a trusted friend? Why is the bad guy around and while in the first book the quest seems to be international intelligence gathering, here it seems to have developed into something more personal, and even a little mad. Sometimes the characters do telegraph the coming events.
The relationships in the story are believable, although the portrayal of “fish odor” as comforting, even a source of love, is a little hard to imagine. Except if you start to think the interwoven selkie mythos is true. After all, a selkie would naturally adore the smell of fish. I, however, cannot imagine thinking a fishy scented guy would be hot, even though we are often told that we quickly become inured to odors.
The time travel question of the validity of a marriage that has not even yet occurred in linear time as proposed in Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series is grappled with less delicately than in OUTLANDER.
The performance by the narractor is fine; she portrays Emmeline Truelove with an innocence, a bit of snark, and perspicacious intelligence. The others are seen and portrayed through Emmeline’s eyes. I enjoyed the performance despite the character sometimes seeming to cling to projecting a missish image, even to herself.
Though slightly flawed by the author working out the structure of her invented world, I enjoyed the story a lot and thought the suspense and performance well done. The author has worked out the issues in the mechanisms of her world better than in the first book, A MOST EXTRAORDINARY PURSUIT (my review: Time, The Minotaur & A MOST EXTRAORDINARY PURSUIT).
Juliana Gray is the pen name of New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams. She lives near the Connecticut shore with her long-suffering husband, two scheming cats, a beagle of dubious origins, and four largely unsupervised children. http://www.julianagray.com/meet-juliana
AUTHOR AS BEATRIZ WILLIAMS: http://beatrizwilliams.com/