Amazon link for the book is here.
Kearsley’s 2012 novel, The Shadowy Horses, follows archeologist Verity Grey. Lured by a mysterious job offer, she treks north from London to Rosehill, a house in coastal Scotland where she meets Peter Quinnell, a rich and eccentric man who has lost the respect of the academic establishment because of his unorthodox methods. Intrigued and charmed by Peter, Verity takes the job, despite the fact that the only reason Peter chose the site was because of the visions seen by a local 8 year old boy with psychic abilities, Robbie. Based on nothing besides Robbie’s visions and interactions with the ghost of a Roman sentinel, the team pushes forward, trying to prove the long-disputed whereabouts of the lost Legio IX Hispania (Ninth Spanish legion). But the ghost appears to follow Verity and seems to be warning the team of impending danger, and at night, the “shadowy horses” gallop across the fields, disturbing Verity’s sleep.
I loved the archeology aspect and the descriptions of a coastal Scottish town. I was disappointed, however, that there wasn’t more archeology in the story. I thought the focus would be around the site and the finds there – that the finds would be more integral to the story. Rather, Kearsley focuses more on Verity and her relationships – the dig provides the ghost and the background for the story, but not much more. In other words, the ghost and the rest of the story could exist even without the archeological dig. I also thought the book would be more suspenseful with the supernatural aspect, and the “danger” is resolved quickly, which is disappointing.
Kearsley is a solid writer. I enjoyed the dialogue and characters very much. Her words flow effortlessly. I found Verity to be a great heroine, and I especially enjoyed Verity’s interactions with “Granny Nan”, another strong-willed woman. I think this book is a little mischaracterized. From the jacket excerpt, you expect this to be a plot-driven book: action, suspense, discoveries, supernatural, edge-of-your-seat thriller. Instead, it’s much more character-driven. It’s more Verity’s love story/adventure, with an ancient ghost thrown in for flavor. Not that that is bad, mind you. It’s just not what you are led to believe when you start off. The book is very enjoyable, so long as the reader goes in with that in mind. But as the cover and descriptions go, it’s easy to be misled!