Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Series: Slains, #1
December 2010
Format: e-book, 527 pages
Source: Personal copy

In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...

My thoughts: This was my first experience reading Susanna Kearsley and I loved it!!! It also happens to be the first in her Slains series. I had picked this up as a Nook deal a while ago, along with some of Susanna Kearsley's other books, but just never got around to it. Then, when the She Reads Book Club announced that The Firebird, #2 in the Slains series, was going to be their book for July, I had to read this one first. I'm so glad I did!!!

I have really come to enjoy books that contain parallel story lines, especially where there's one in the present and one in the past. In the case of The Winter Sea, the modern story line involves Carrie, who's writing an historical novel (which becomes the historical story line) about the Jacobite rebellion in 1708. Originally, she had her book set in France, but on a trip to Scotland, she finds herself drawn to Slains Castle. She decides to switch the setting and to tell the story from a woman's point of view. As she begins creating a fictional life for Sophia, Carrie begins to wonder if Sophia's story is fact rather than fiction and if her memories have somehow become part of Carrie's subconscious. It is at this point that Carrie learns that she has a unique ability - she has what's called ancestral memory, where she holds the memories of her ancestors. This genetic memory device is what is used to connect the two story lines.

The book moves back and forth between the two stories and just as you are getting hooked on one story, you go back to the other. It keeps you wanting to read more and not put the book down. And the historical facts that we get throughout the book are woven intricately into the storyline...sometimes as action and sometimes as dialogue. There's a little bit of everything in this book - there's history, there's two romances brewing, there's intrigue and even some suspense...all thrown together to create a book that stays with you long after you finish read.

After having read both this and The Firebird, which continues the historical storyline, I'm definitely wanting to read more about the Jacobite Rebellion and even more about Scottish history in general. I love when I finish a book and am left wanting to learn more about a topic. To me, that's the sign of a great writer!

So, have you read any historical fiction that is set in Scotland? What would you recommend?

Books in this series:
  1. The Winter Sea
  2. The Firebird


  1. I have wanted to read any of her books, but now I really really want to read them! Thanks for your finds!

  2. I read The Firebird but not this one. I have it on my bookshelf and have to make time for it!!

  3. Diana Gabaldon's books starting with Outlander would give you plenty of Scottish background and history. I love this series, had to buy new set as the ones I leant out fell to bits! By the way they make fantastic listening on audio the narrator is the best I ever heard.

  4. The Winter Sea is one of my favorites. I also loved The Firebird and The Shadowy Horses (the book that introduces Rob when he is a little boy).

  5. I think this is my favorite of Kearsley's books because I thought both the modern and the historical story lines were both really good. Great review! I hope you enjoy her other books if you decide to give them a try.

  6. Thanks for your great reviews on both books. I read the Firebird first and just purchased the Winter Sea to read.

  7. I also love books with parallel story lines and this one sounds very well done. Definitely one for the TBR list :)


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