One of the things that caught my eye about this book was that it’s marketed to fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams. Both of these authors have a very unique and lyrical storytelling style and their books are typically family sagas or dramas with hints of romance.
So when I read this marketing description I was totally intrigued by this book and wanted to read it. I also loved that this book sounded highly atmospheric and suspenseful, though it’s set in North America it is about a Scottish heiress who unexpectedly encounters her childhood friend in North America in 1890, five years after he disappeared from her family’s estate the night of a double murder.
Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borderlands, save for the occasional trip to Edinburgh, where her father, a respected magistrate, conducts his business—and affairs of another kind. Evelyn has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled.
Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father.
Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences (description from Goodreads).
As you can guess from the description, this book sounded wonderful and full of things to love. A family saga and a murder mystery with a brooding tone should be a book that I would absolutely LOVE, however this one was just ok for me.
For me, the book moved a little too slow. There were parts in it that I was feeling frustrated by. I think that I expected there to be a lot more drama and rich storytelling based on the location of the story. For me, this was a completely new setting. I haven’t read a lot of books set in the wilderness or in Canada so I guess my expectations were high when it came to utilizing the setting to enrich the story. I think the setting could have added a lot more to the novel but instead it just seemed like it was just ‘there’ and not used to its full potential.
Evelyn was just ok for me, I didn’t LOVE her but I didn’t dislike her either. She served a purpose and seemed to fit within the story well. Although there were some things she would do that seemed a little unrealistic for her character, like setting traps and cooking over open fires etc but on the whole she seemed well suited within the story.
The one thing that saved this book for me was the mystery. The murder mystery was intriguing and wrapped up well in the end. I really enjoyed those parts of the story and felt invested enough in the mystery to continue reading the book.
On the whole this book earned a three star rating from me. It was ok but didn’t completely blow me away. I would agree that fans of Kate Morton would probably like this book, it’s not quite the same caliber but atmospheric all the same.
Kindle Edition, 336 pagesExpected publication: April 18th 2017 by Atria Books
- Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, family saga