The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley Sourcebooks, Inc., December 1, 2010
*I bought this book myself and reviewed it independently.*
Carrie McClelland is a successful historical fiction author. She has set her new book around the attempt of a group of Jacobites to bring the exiled King James Stewart back to Scotland. While researching the story she feels a strong pull to stay near Slains Castle, a place that had a minor role in the invasion. But as she settles down to write she finds that maybe her novel has more fact than fiction. How can this be? Is she suffering from ancestral memory? Is it possible that she is the only living person that knows the exact reason that the Jacobites were betrayed and King James was not returned to the throne?
I picked up this novel on my Kindle because it was at a discounted price (right now it’s $2.99 for Kindle) and it kept coming up under my Amazon suggestions, so I was expecting a light beach read on my family vacation. While it was a read that I definitely enjoyed at the beach it was not fluffy. This book had real substance and Susanna Kearsley is a serious author (in a great way).
I have never been to Scotland, but the imagery in this book made me feel like I knew the landscape. I could almost feel the cold wind whipping through Slains Castle and the waves crashing on the hillside. The descriptions were done in such an effortless way that I did not feel like I was bogged down in mundane details. The Winter Sea almost seamlessly moved from 1708 to present day. It was not a confusing jump. I never felt that I had to remember where I was in either time period. It just worked, so don’t be concerned if you are one of those people who cannot follow a story line that moves rapidly. In this story it will not be a problem. Just trust me.
I did not have prior knowledge of the Jacobite failed invasion, so this novel gave me that history. Sure, this book was fictional but the actual history of the almost return of the king is accurate. I found the failed smuggling of a king and the power struggle in Scotland fascinating. Then you add in a dash of romance and mysterious dreams…..I’m sold!
What I loved the most was the characters. They leapt off the pages! Each character contained such depth, even the minor ones, that you couldn’t help but fall in love (or hate) with them. You were rooting the entire time for King James to return, even though you clearly know from the beginning it’s a failed attempt. You want to change history for these characters because you love them so.
So in my humble opinion, go get the book. It was a great read that I could not put down. You will fall in love with the setting, the history and the characters. I actually missed them when I finished. Susanna Kearsley did such a fantastic job of bringing this story to a crescendo that I did not expect, but that satisfied me completely. I am sure it will do the same for you. So read away to Scotland! But bring a coat, it’s pretty chilly around Slains Castle.