Reviewed by David Savage
The Secret of Skara Vhore is the first of a fantasy trilogy set in the remote highlands of Scotland and follows the battle for good and evil as well as loyalty between family and friends.
Katie is a troubled teenager living in foster care in England and after being claimed by relatives in Scotland she is sent to the distant Scottish island of Farinsay. After never fitting in anywhere she has lived she soon begins to accept life on the island after making friends with 2 cousins, Morag who is close to her own age and Robbie who is younger. Then comes along the strange and secretive Kirig who lives in the hills.
While their friendships blossom and they spend their lives roaming the hills and countryside sinister events are occurring and Katie is struggling with strange dreams. Their world is about to change when the battle of good versus evil, light over dark begins and it is down to Katie and her friends to restore the balance of power and fulfil her promised destiny.
Overall, when I first looked at the cover, I must admit that I didn’t think it would grab my attention as it didn’t really give anything away about the story (although the artwork is good and once reading the story it does make it the perfect illustration) but from the very first page the story is gripping and just get better and better right up the very last page (so the saying “never judge a book by its cover” is quite apt). The characters are built up slowly over the course of the story revealing more and more of the strange past of the two main characters, Katie and Kirig. The tension and action become fast-paced once their quest began and it then became very hard to stop reading as the need know what happened next was too great.
It is hard to write this review as I don’t want to say too much and give away the “secret” but this story is fantastic, gripping, filled with action and tension and takes place over many years.
The characters and places are so well described you could almost be reading about people you know and places you have visited and if you love fantasy novels with a dark supernatural twist then you will love The Secret of Skara Vhore.
Jennifer M Calder has written a well thought-out story (and even listed some of the Scottish terms used in the story at the back of the book, as I for one didn’t know what a Kirk or Settle was) and definitely has a great talent for dark, supernatural fantasy thrillers that will keep you on the edge of seat.
Highly recommended from someone that doesn’t really read a lot of fantasy novels and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy once they are available.
RRP: £9.99 (paperback)
Available to buy from Troubador here.