A Review for Netgalley.
This book is set in a fictional town in the far north of Scotland where the Vikings once settled – or did they? Are the people really related to Vikings? Or not? And just who was their ancestor? And just where did family lines cross? Perhaps not where you thought they did.
In fact, there have been genetic tests of people living in the far Scottish north that show just who was descended from a Viking and you have to remember that many of the far islands were actually owned by the Danes until late in Scottish history.
http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/vikingorkney/ says that in the 13th century Orkney was actually run as a Norwegian earldom using Norwegian language and following a Norse way of life. This had begun before the 9th century and was well established as the Vikings raided further south. The evidence for Viking heritage has been established by DNA testing in 2000/2001 demonstrating that the Orkney inhabitants were very similar genetically with modern Norway despite having inter-married with local women. Indeed 60% of the Northern Isles male population showed Viking ancestry.
And is this interest in ancestry that forms a central pillar of the book.
Who was related to whom? Who had fathered whom? Who belonged in which family?
And who fathered whom was part of a small town secret that festered as they so often do. gossip and secrets corrode relationships. Secrets are guessed and gossip distorts and lives are impacted to their detriment.
The story centres around a local Viking festival loosely based on the ‘Up Helly Aa’ festival of Lerwick in Shetland which takes place in January. It began in the 1880s to celebrate the end of the festival period and has Guizer Jarl and his Norsemen marching through the town. The author then adds in a Viking boat race similar to the one on the Isle of Man except with home-made boats instead of longboats.
I found this to be a straight forward read with a clear and easy writing style. I would have given it four stars except I got very irritated with the heroine for being such a wimp and thought the author could have given her a stronger character so that we actually empathised with her situation rather than saying ‘Oh get over yourself’ to her!