Top critical review
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on 29 July 2014
Despite a decent plot (involving murder, witchcraft, "unnatural" lusts and adultery), a novel (no pun intended) setting and likeable central characters, I had a real struggle finishing this book.
Firstly, presumably for the sake of providing a sense of authenticity, the author has the characters speaking in a kind of Shakespearean style language, the more so as the book progressed (or perhaps I only noticed it the further into the book I got). For me, this is completely unnecessary (we know when the story is set and a feel of authenticity is given by frequent reference to the lifestyles and worldviews of the characters in the story) and simply makes the book difficult to read.
Secondly, and most noticeably (and presumably as part of the search for authenticity), the author uses a lot of archaic Scottish words many of which are not in the Kindle dictionary, so you have to guess their meaning from the context. This makes the book even more difficult to read.
Lastly, apart from the specific criticisms raised above, I found the author's style heavy-handed. At times it felt to me like she thought she was writing great literature, using quite poetical language or imagery to describe settings or scenes, which actually made it quite difficult to picture what she was actually trying to describe.
An author's style is very much a matter of personal taste, but I struggled with this book despite it having a good storyline and despite the fact that I read quite a bit of historical crime fiction. I was torn between two stars (style) and three stars (content) but in the end content won over style.