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A Thistle in the Mist Kindle Edition
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Writer Megan Denby created an entire world in this novel, which I felt privileged to visit. From the start of the book, I was fascinated by time and place, and in particular the language of the Scots. What a lovely lilt that Scottish burr is! What fun it was to meet Meara as she sings a song written by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. Of course, she calls him Rabbie Burns! Don't you simply love it when a writer knows her stuff? Yes, I'm one of those who checks. And Denby knows what she is talking about. From the colors of the MacDonald tartan to the claret our heroine's father drinks. While I think of Scotland as being famous for its single malts, in the eighteen hundreds claret was as common a drink as milk.
As our heroine Meara goes from a carefree life at Duntulm Castle to heartbreak, sweet Duncan tells her, "Ah, lass, if I could take away the hurtin', ye ken I would." You got to love a sweet laddie like him! As Meara has to fight for her life alone while her man is away fighting Napoleon, she is sustained by Duncan's love.
Will our sweet lassie get her hunk of a laddie in the end? Take the journey with Meara, Duncan and all the characters author Denby brings alive on the page. It's well worth the trip.
The basic premise may seem like one we have encountered time and again; the classic fairy tale story of a carefree young girl, who suddenly has her world turned upside down, and has to battle evil in the form of cruel relatives, but A Thistle in the Mist is so much more than this and the story itself has many different layers. Think along the lines of a Scottish Tess of the d'Urbervilles, but with it's own unique twist.
The writing is seamless, reminding me of the crisp engaging style of Nora Roberts, and the characters so well drawn, they feel like flesh and blood coming alive off the page. You are rooting for Meara and Duncan, feel their grief, frustration and anger, but also the secondary characters are just as well rounded. Honourable young Rabbie, his loyal and devoted family, tragic Hannah, sad young Vanessa and the insidious ghastly Sloan. All the way through I kept thinking about how well this tale would translate to the big screen and maybe this is something to hope for in the future.
Megan Denby is definitely a talent to watch and I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel.
The story delivers dramatic and tense moments from the perspective of the feisty and loyal Meara in the first person. Dialogue and action balance well as the story develops, and Denby handles erotic sequences expertly. I found myself turning pages to find out what would happen next, and I'm happy to report that this book lends itself well to a sequel.
For your information, Denby composes her characters' dialogue in the Scottish dialect, and that forced me to slow my reading in order to "hear" the characters, but the narrator uses standard English.
Megan Denby has successfully crafted a highly despicable set of antagonists in Deirdre and her twisted brother Sloan, but our protagonist (Meara) is a worthy opponent.
Author of The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives: A Tale of Magic, Manners, and Scandal
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