Blurb: Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.
Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.
Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.
My Review: I wasn’t sure how to review this book. I read it in two days, mostly snippets of 10 minutes or less in lulls at work and despite the very brief periods in which I could read I was completely transported in that time, so much so that when my attention was called back to work I was momentarily confused and had to remind myself where I was.
This is not going to be a story which appeals to everyone, not everyone will want to read, or will gel with a story about fairies and other tales of folklore. I would never have really said it was my thing either but this book appealed to me and I’m glad I took a chance on it. This is such a mystical and almost ethereal story which is ground in so much truth and history. I’ve visited Skye a few times myself, so was familiar with most of the places mentioned in the book and the descriptions were spot on.
I liked Audrey as a person, trying to find herself and her own way in a world that didn’t want to accommodate her doing something different from the norm. There were some scenes that had me shaking my head at the responses she got from some people, and other scenes which had me wanting to go there and tell some of the other characters that they were talking nonsense, clearly impossible because apart from anything else I can’t time-travel (unfortunately!). This was what made this book as good as it is, it weaves a spell around you and draws you in, like the fairies taking people away from the human world. Everything gets drawn up like a cyclone, all twisting and turning and who do you trust and what’s going to happen next and then, like the sun coming out after a storm, it starts to clear and everything starts to fall into place.
This is a new author for me but one that I will definitely read again and I will go so far as to say this is one of the few books that I am likely to re-read. I would honestly recommend this book if you’re tempted. Be open minded and see where it takes you, stories are meant to transport us, after all.
About the author: