REVIEW: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna KearsleyFriday, October 26, 2012 1:00
The book opens with Verity Grey sitting in a bus parked in the middle of nowhere, staring at the rain-swept landscape of the Scottish moors, watching a giant of man walking out of the mist toward the bus. The plot thickens when Verity wakes up in the middle of the night to the sound of a black cat hissing and galloping horses. With my heart thumping in excitement, I frantically turned the pages of my kindle to read what would happen next after this most exciting start. While I enjoyed many elements of the book, the middle drags a bit and I feel a little cheated in the end because the main mystery regarding the Ninth Legion around which this book is built is still a mystery. Peter Quinnell is an archeologist. He and David Fortune, the local professor of archeology, and Verity’s mystery man from the moors are looking to prove that the Ninth Roman Legion ran into foul play and perished at a marching camp outside Peter’s current residence. Peter’s gut instinct is backed up by Robbie, the psychic son of Peter’s housekeeper, who is convinced that he saw the ghost of a Roman Sentinel who tried to talk with him. Now the team is added to by Verity, who works with the artifacts that are discovered on the site; Adrian, who is the surveyor who uses modern equipment to identify signs under the surface; and Peter’s granddaughter, who is the official photographer. Then there’s the possible smuggler/fisherman/father to Robbie who is all around to deepen the mystery. And, by the way, let’s not forget Davy’s mom, who was Peter’s assistant at one time.
All the characters are really well developed and each one has a back story and plays a part in the current mystery in their own way. There are a lot of threads and, like I said earlier, a few of them are left hanging – particularly in my mind: what really happened to the Ninth Legion. There are a lot of hints, but I suppose the mystery is still left shrouded in the mists of time. I don’t know if the author plans to develop this further in another book or if she was unwilling to take poetic license with an explicit explanation.
The central character of the story is the ghostly sentinel, who communicates through the psychic Robbie. Once this is understood, Davy and Verity teach Robbie enough Latin words to communicate through him. I find it interesting that the Sentinel is also able to tell the future and warn of possible dangers. At least that part of the story is believable.
I do like how Verity and David’s relationship develops, despite Adrian’s jealous attempts to derail it. While the sidebar in the relationship between Verity and Davy’s mother is good background and really helps to explain a lot, I feel that some part of that distracted me from the central theme without adding to the story.
Overall, I persevered through the book, even though there are some parts that I wanted to fast forward through. This is my first book by this author, and, while I have read some raving reviews about some of her books, I am not quite ready to go out and buy a lot of her back list just yet.
With its dark legends and passionate history, the windswept shores of Scotland are an archaeologist’s dream. Verity Grey is thrilled by the challenge of uncovering an ancient Roman campsite in a small village. But as soon as she arrives, she can sense danger in the air.
Her eccentric boss, Peter Quinnell, has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he’s finally found it – not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has ‘seen’ a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
Surprisingly, Verity believes in Peter, and the boy, and even in the Sentinel, who seems determined to become her own protector…but from what?
Read an excerpt.