Margaret Shea's historical novel, set in a 16th century Scotland riven by family feuds, opens with one such act of mindless violence between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, the results of which hang over the main characters for the rest of the story. We know something else equally, if not more awful, is going to happen; we just don't know where, when or how. And this keeps the reader hooked till the very end as potential flash-points come and go and the tension mounts. This is a well-researched, detailed, moving and at times amusing book, with just enough "Scottish-isms" for authenticity without exhausting the English reader! And Skea writes beautifully, in a style that can be quite spare but pleasing: "Daylight slipped into their bedchamber like a wraith." At times I could have been there - smells, colours, scenery all felt real. Only one draw-back - you may need to refer to the family charts quite often to work out who is related to whom. It's not like the Tudors; these are individuals most people have never heard of. But stick with it; this novel repays the effort.