Crooked cat Publishing
“The dead of night, Jess, I wish they’d leave me alone.”
Jessamin Wade’s husband is dead – a death she feels wholly responsible for. As a way of coping with her grief, she keeps him ‘alive’ in her imagination – talking to him everyday, laughing with him, remembering the good times they had together. She thinks she will ‘hear’ him better if she goes somewhere quieter, away from the hustle and bustle of her hometown, Brighton. Her destination is Glenelk in the Highlands of Scotland, a region her grandfather hailed from and the subject of a much-loved painting from her childhood.
Arriving in the village late at night, it is a bleak and forbidding place. However, the house she is renting – Skye Croft – is warm and welcoming. Quickly she meets the locals. Her landlord, Fionnlagh Maccaillin, is an ex-army man with obvious and not so obvious injuries. Maggie, who runs the village shop, is also an enigma, startling her with her strange ‘insights’. But it is Stan she instantly connects with. Maccaillin’s grandfather and a frail, old man, he is grief-stricken from the recent loss of his beloved Beth.
All four are caught in the past. All four are unable to let go. Their lives entwining in mysterious ways, can they help each other to move on or will they always belong to the ghosts that haunt them?
I want to live in Skye Croft, let me just get that out there first. Oh my gosh, this book…
My disclaimer is that I knew before the first page that I would enjoy this book based on reading Shani’s past writing. She has a magical way with prose, her descriptions are sublime, and the reader is submerged into the emotion of every scene.
I wouldn’t exactly call Jessamine a ghost story. That’s just too simple. It’s a haunting story of lost love and guilt and how the past can destroy the present by holding on too tightly. It’s also a mystery that unravels slowly and draws you in to the point you think you won’t be able to breathe without answers.
Jessamin was blissfully happy and desperately in love with her slightly older husband, but blames herself for his death because of a stupid fight before the accident that took his life. He took care of her in life and in death, left her financially, if not emotionally secure. She continues to hold onto him, convinced he is still with her in spirit. James is the only thing she wants really, so, she retreats to a place that did give her comfort as a child – an old painting of an unnamed loch in Scotland. Her only clue to its whereabouts is the area her grandfather came from.
Glenelk has a tiny population and is deep enough in the Highlands to retain a touch of Celtic magic. Shani Struthers captures the entire area with such vivid enticing imagery, that there was a couple of times that I stopped reading to look at pictures. She made me want to be there among the people, glens, fairy pools, and mountains.
The Highlands are almost a character in there own right in this book, one of a number of fascinating characters. Each so fully developed, that they were ready to walk of the pages into real life.
It’s through loss that Jessamin connects with the other main characters, each holding onto their own almost as tightly as she is. The problem for all of them is moving forward means letting go and none of them are capable of doing it alone.
I laughed and I cried reading this. I felt the characters exhilaration when life began to creep back into their blood, but also their fear. If I can described it, it would be like emotions tied up and as a reader I was desperate for the characters to break free.
This really is a must read. A absolute gem of a read, especially now during the winter months when it’s perfect for curling up by a fire.
About the Author
An avid reader, I'll wade through pretty much anything but hot favourites right now are romance, horror (not gory though, more supernatural) and contemporary. Am discovering some wonderful books through Goodreads and writing circles on Facebook - haven't had to pop into Waterstones for ages! I'm also the author of The Runaway Year, published by Omnific Publishing - a contemporary Cornish romance with a healthy dash of sass. Later this year my second novel will be available - a paranormal mystery this time. Psychic Surveys Book 1: The Haunting of Highdown Hall will be published by Crooked Cat Publishing and is the first in a series which will only get darker.