Posts Tagged With: Scotland

Insurrection by Robyn Young

Title: Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy Book 1)
Author: Robyn Young
ISBN: 978-0-340-96366-1
Publisher: Hodder
First Published: October 2010
No .of pages: 672

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
The year is 1286 and Scotland is in the grip of one of the worst winters in living memory. Some believe the Day of Judgement has come. The King of Scotland is murdered by one of his squires, a deed pre-meditated by his own brother-in-law, the King of England, a thousand miles away in France. The Prophecy of Merlin has decreed that only when the four relics of Britain have been gathered will one man rule a united kingdom, and Edward I is determined to fulfil it. The murder of Scotland’s king is thus just the first in a chain of events that will alter the face of Britain forever. But all is not destined to go Edward’s way. Out of the ashes of war, through blood feuds and divided loyalties, a young squire will rise to defy England’s greatest king. His name is Robert the Bruce. And his story begins in INSURRECTION.

Review:

I adore historical fiction, so I jumped at the chance to read something set in Scotland and covering an exciting period in its history – Scotland’s political wranglings with the English date back centuries and are fraught with battles, both of words and combat. I was champing at the bit to get started and waded in.

I was right about the setting being spectacular and the story intense, but the realisation of it was pretty dry in places and such slow going I felt like I was wading through sticky Scottish porridge, trying to get to the end. Unusually for me, this book took an absolute age to finish and when I did finally get to the end, I felt like my brain had been stuffed full of stodge.

All this is not to say it’s a bad book – there are some really thrilling battle scenes and some fascinating glimpses of the life of Robert the Bruce as he slowly rose in position, both in Scotland and England, but there’s a lot to get through in between that slows the pace considerably, and at close to 700 pages, this felt even lengthier.

Recommended only for big fans of Scottish history who enjoy wrestling with hefty novels. There’s some really good stuff in there, but you have to persevere to find it.

Review by Kell Smurthwaite

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Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

Title: Birthdays for the Dead
Author: Stuart MacBride
ISBN: 978-0007344178
Publisher: HarperCollins
First Published: January 2012
No .of pages: 496

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…

Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.

The tabloids call him The Birthday Boy. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his homemade cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.

But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards – they all think she’s just run away from home – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves…

Review:
Ash Henderson isn’t a bad cop; he’s one of the good guys, but if there’s a bad way to do something for the right reasons, he’ll find it. He’d never take a bribe, but it’s not unusual for him to put the squeeze on the bad guys to get something out of a situation for him, and he tends to mix with a crowd that means he’s permanently in a sticky situation. In short, he’s a complete screw-up. Despite all this, there’s something very likeable about this train wreck of a man. He’s fiercely loyal and protective of his family and friends, and will put himself on the line every time to help them. Unfortunately, putting yourself on the line so often means you often cross it…

MacBride is astute when it comes to complex and flawed characters, and they add to his equally complex plotting, making the implausible very plausible and seemingly inevitable. He also has a wonderfully gritty way with gore – it’s visceral and real to the very end, without tipping over into the territory of schlock horror.

This one, however, felt a little rougher around the edges than the Logan McRae novels, a little harder-edged and unpolished in comparison. That’s not to say it was bad – it’s very good, just not as good as the McRae books, but then, they’re pretty hard to beat.

If you’re a fan of crime fiction (in particular Scottish crime fiction), this is a must for your collection.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

emotional-geology

Synopsis:

Rose Leonard is on the run from her life. Taking refuge in a remote island community, she cocoons herself in work, silence and solitude in a house by the sea. But she is haunted by her past, by memories and desires she’d hoped were long dead. Rose must decide whether she has in fact chosen a new life or just a different kind of death. Life and love are offered by new friends, her lonely daughter, and most of all Calum, a fragile younger man who has his own demons to exorcise. But does Rose, with her tenuous hold on life and sanity, have the courage to say yes to life and put her past behind her?

A unique book in many ways. Gillard deals with death, bi-polar mental illness and love in middle-age people. Well, I loved it. I could not put it down. Gillard is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy her writing style; she is so imaginative and the way she describes landscapes and feelings is magical. I could picture what was being described, and she wrote so well I now long to go there and discover the island for myself. I also appreciated the map in the front of the book and the little bit of information about the island. They helped with the reading immensely.

Once again, the characters were just fantastic. Rose, who suffers with manic depression is dealt with sensitively and informatively. Calum, well he was a character I fell for. Even with his own troubles he was there for Rose. What a man. And my favourite, his sister Shona. She seemed delightful.

I have finished this book feeling satisfied. This is more than chick-lit, where the protagonist falls in love, this is a story of depth, of healing, death and illness, and it was beautiful. A part of me wishes it hadn’t finished and I know I will invest in my own copy of this book, and indeed Gillard’s other novels, as all have had an effect on me, and all I will want to read, and read again.

I can only praise this book and encourage others to read it too.

10/10

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