In my post the other day, I mentioned that I was reading The Shadowy Horses but that I couldn’t remember where I read the rave review that sent me back to this book after many years. Well, Claire commented on my post & I thought her enthusiasm sounded familiar & so here’s the post about several books by Susanna Kearsley that made me want to reread this book.
I’ve read all Susanna Kearsley’s books as they’ve been published & I love the mix of history, suspense, romance & the supernatural that she uses to create her addictive plots. Since reading The Shadowy Horses back in 1998 I’ve become even more interested in Roman Britain & archaeology so Claire’s reminder was all I needed to download the book & start reading almost straightaway.
Verity Grey is an archaeologist who has recently started working freelance after leaving the British Museum. A former boyfriend, Adrian Sutton-Clarke, has recommended her for a job at Rosehill, a house on the Scottish border, but has told Verity very little about what the job entails. Verity arrives to discover that the site director, Peter Quinnell, believes that he has discovered the fate of the Ninth Legion. The Ninth mysteriously disappeared in the early years of the Roman occupation of Britain in the 1st century. There have been many theories as to what happened to the Legion from annihilation at the hands of Celtic warriors to the more prosaic redeployment to another part of the Empire. Verity is intrigued but also a little concerned when she realises that Peter is basing his excavations on the word of Robbie McMorran, a local boy with remarkable powers of second sight.
Robbie sees a Roman soldier that he calls the Sentinel patrolling an area of land close to Rosehill. Robbie, who accepts his second sight as a normal part of his life, isn’t the only one who can sense the Sentinel’s presence. His dog, Kip, runs alongside the Sentinel, waiting for him to reach down & give him a pat & Verity becomes aware of a presence watching her closely & protectively. Peter’s two cats, Murphy & Charlie, are also sensitive to the supernatural & they can sense the Sentinel as well as the horses that only Verity can hear at night in the field next to the house.
The rest of Peter’s team have varying levels of belief in the project. Adrian, a geophysicist, is sceptical & mainly there for the money. He’s also interested in Peter’s granddaughter, Fabia. Fabia is young, beautiful & bored. Staying with Peter after her father’s death, she makes herself useful as a photographer. David Fortune is another archaeologist who Verity becomes attracted to. David worships Peter, who inspired his love of history & Peter is very close to David’s mother, Nancy, who lives nearby. Peter has only a short time to come up with results so that he can convince Dr Connelly, head of the archeology department at the university to approve his project for summer students. Peter’s reputation as an archaeologist has suffered because of his obsession with the Ninth Legion & Verity becomes determined to support his vision, sometimes against her better judgement.
I loved this book. It has everything I love in a novel of romantic suspense. It’s set in Scotland, it’s about history & archaeology, the supernatural elements are beautifully handled, the romance is perfect & there’s enough conflict & mystery to keep the plot ticking along. There are even cats! What more could I ask for? According to Marg, who commented on my post the other day, Susanna Kearsley’s next book, The Firebird, features Robbie from The Shadowy Horses & is also linked to The Winter Sea, another of the books set in Scotland. I can hardly wait.