Friday, 2 May 2014

Guest Book Review: Posie Graeme-Evans - The Island House

Reviewed by Janine Cobain

When Freya Dane inherits the small Scottish island called Findnar, the young archaeologist finds a treasure house of notes and artifacts from the island's Viking and Christian past. 

But that is just the beginning of a story that began in 800 AD. It is then that Signy, a young Pictish girl, survives a murderous Viking raid. Taken in by the Christian missionaries of Findnar, she learns their language and their ways - even the mysteries of writing. But before she can take her vows as a nun, she falls in love with the battle's other survivor- a Viking boy called Magni. Forced to choose between her faith and the man she loves, Signy's fate will be tragic . . . 

As Freya uncovers Signy's story and the secrets hidden beneath her new home, she finally realizes that Findnar is as dangerous in the twenty-first century as it was twelve hundred years ago.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

I found this book challenging at first; it took me three attempts at it to get beyond the first couple of chapters, but once I got used to the time-switching of chapters, and began to learn more about the two female leads, I relaxed into the story. The author’s ability to vividly describe a setting, giving a comprehensive description of the sights, sounds, and feel of a scene, is 
quite captivating.

As we follow Freya Dane’s journey to get to know her absent father, through his work as a fellow archaeologist, the story is woven with mystical visions which are – with an open mind – believable given the island’s emotive setting, rich with shadows from a past where the Pagan, Christian and Viking histories run deep in its heritage.

The Island House has been written – or, more likely, edited – so that each page is filled with words that add value to the pace and setting of the story, and, while this holds the reader’s attention, we are often left with no space for character development. I found that, with the exception of Freya, Signy, and Bear, the other characters felt very ‘flat’; their personalities had been muted, or edited out. For example, Daniel Boyne went from a broody, emotionally damaged introvert to a romantic hero with no indication of how he got there. And Simon went from being an attractive, easy going potential sexual encounter to a treasure-hungry intruder – again with no real insight into how the change came about. I also feel that the bitterness within Robert Buchannan was woefully under-developed, he could have added such a villainous edge to the drama.

That said, once I was into the novel, it held my attention and I enjoyed the read, the characters, and the conclusion.

I'd like to thank Janine for reviewing this book for me.  

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