Susanna Kearsley’s latest historical fiction novel is a gorgeous blend of intrigue, history, romance, and the supernatural set on an archaeological dig in Scotland. The Shadowy Horses is Verity Gray’s experiences on the site as she hopes to discover the final resting place of the Ninth Legion, an ancient Roman legion whose fate may not be accurately accounted for. The project is led by Peter Quinell, a man for whom Verity has much respect, but who is no longer taken seriously by their colleagues. Verity takes a scientific approach to the dig, but Peter is relying on a psychic lead from a local boy that they will find the remains that he has been searching for his entire career.
Though Verity laughs off Peter’s claims, she soon finds herself questioning everything she has ever believed when she begins hearing horses in the middle of the night–only to discover that there are no horses anywhere around them. Once Verity sees the ghost of the Roman sentinel that seems to be guarding the site and watching their every move, she knows that they will make an astounding discovery.
I have read nearly everything that Susanna Kearsley has written, and with each new book of hers I discover I fall more in love with her writing. Of all of her books that I have had the pleasure of reading so far, I would have to say that The Shadowy Horses is my favorite. There is absolutely nothing that I would change about this novel: the pacing is perfect, the characters are solid, there is a perfect balance of the historical aspects and the contemporary, and the love story is enchanting. The last 30 pages were intense, heartbreaking, and wonderfully satisfying; I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion.
The Shadowy Horses allowed me to escape into the past and learn new things about a country I would one day love to visit; you can also bet I will be seeking out more knowledge about the Ninth Legion. Kearsley’s books are always so well researched, but this book seemed to focus less on the history and more on her unforgettable characters and their complicated relationships with one another. This actually made it a more accessible read, but I wouldn’t have minded more depth in the historical sections. As always, I loved her ability to blend the past with the present.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.