When ghostwriter Jenny Ryan is summoned to the Scottish Highlands by Sholto MacNab – retired adventurer and Laird of Cauldstane Castle – she’s prepared for travellers’ tales, but not the MacNabs’ violent and tragic history.
Lust, betrayal and murder have blighted family fortunes for generations, together with an ancient curse. As members of the family confide their sins and their secrets, Jenny learns why Cauldstane’s uncertain future divides father and sons.
But someone resents Jenny’s presence. Someone thinks she’s getting too close to Alec MacNab – swordsmith, widower and heir to Cauldstane. Someone will stop at nothing until Jenny has been driven away. Or driven mad.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Especially a dead woman.
Linda Gillard is a wonderful writer. Her books – and I’ve read them all – always have strongly drawn characters that leap off the page, great insight into thoughts and emotions and a wonderful sense of place. And they always tell an excellent story. And if you’re like me, you have to read them immediately they hit your Kindle, and not stop until you hit the very last line. If you’ve enjoyed any of her previous books, you most certainly won’t be disappointed in this one. Probably sitting somewhere between The Glass Guardian and House of Silence – although it’d be quite wrong to define the author’s books by category or genre, they’re all very different – she most definitely has another winner here. The strapline is “a gothic novel in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt”, and I think that just about hits it on the head.
Cauldstane Castle is a wonderful creation – the author’s settings are always vividly drawn, but the castle in this story lives and breathes as another character in the story, its rooms and atmosphere as real by the end as the room in which I was reading. The heroine, Jenny, has a complex background and the right intrepid spirit for a gothic novel like this: I loved her as much as I loved her friend Roger and the wonderful eccentric Sholto McNab. Alec is a perfect leading man – I’m a sucker for any man with such sensitivity and gentleness coupled with a deft touch with a claymore. The paranormal elements are exceptionally well done – gently disturbing, but I have to admit to being a bit of a wuss in that regard.
This book is a fantastic read. Buy it immediately for your Kindle – or wait a little while and it will be available as a paperback in due course. No-one I know handles a rattling good story like this as well as Linda Gillard. And while you’re at it, why not try one of her earlier books? My personal favourites are Star Gazing, House of Silence and A Lifetime Burning – but the fun will be in discovering your own.
At the time of writing, Cauldstane is available for Kindle only, at the fantastic price of £2.98.
Linda Gillard lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands and has been an actress, journalist and teacher. She’s the author of six novels, including Star Gazing (Piatkus), short-listed in 2009 for Romantic Novel of the Year and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award (for writing that promotes the Scottish landscape.) Star Gazing was also voted “Favourite Romantic Novel 1960 – 2010”. Linda’s fourth novel, House of Silence became a Kindle bestseller, selling over 20,000 copies in its first year. It was selected by Amazon UK as one of their Top Ten “Best of 2011” in the Indie Author category. Linda is active on Facebook and Goodreads, and she has an excellent website where you can find out more about the author and her books.