SOS Aloha's Reviews > The Shadowy Horses

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
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's review
Sep 29, 2012

it was amazing

“Just as tall trees are known by their shadows, so are good men known by their enemies” – Chinese Proverb

The title, THE SHADOWY HORSES, comes from the first line of WB Yeats’ poem, HE BIDS HIS BELOVED BE AT PEACE. The poem describes death as horses running across the field as the narrator comforts his loved one. Yeats’ poem serves as a metaphor as Verity faces crossroads in her life.

Verity is an archaeologist, working at the British Museum, when she is offered an interview for a dig in the Borderlands. In fact, Verity is recommended by a former lover, Adrian. Adrian is also working on the dig as a surveyor along with David, a professor at the University of Edinburgh. Yet Verity is hired for her own credentials by the dig’s sponsor, Peter. Peter is considered an eccentric by academics as he searches for the Legio IX Hispana – the Spanish Ninth Legion who mysteriously vanished in the second century. Peter believes the “marching army” camped near Rosehill, a house he purchased for the singular purpose of finding the last remnants of the legendary legion. Peter is basing his dig on Robbie – a local lad who “sees” a sentinel walking around Rosehill.

Although Verity is skeptical of the “ghost” sighting, she finds herself drawn to Peter (as a father figure), David (as a romantic interest), and other colorful characters in the fishing village of Eyemouth, Scotland. The story unfolds from Verity’s first person perspective – it easily draws readers into the Verity’s discoveries of the Scots’ way of life – their customs, their language, and their beliefs in things that go bump in the night. The paranormal aspect of this story – the sentinel – is mild but engaging. In fact, he serves as the metaphor for the characters to reexamine their own lives before the Shadowy Horses come.

THE SHADOWY HORSES has several subplots, including a budding romance between Verity and David. Their attraction (and sex) is implied, allowing the overarching story – the sentinel – to progress. THE SHADOWY HORSES exposed me to archaeology, the Borderlands, and even Latin as it delivered a thoughtful story of second chances.

I received an ARC from the publisher for this review.
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