Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Pages: 527
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: December 10, 2010
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write. But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her."
Carrie McClelland is a successfully historical fiction author and her latest book is about Scotland in the 1700s. She even rents a cottage near Slains Castle in Scotland which is the location that inspired her story. Carrie names the heroine of her novel, Sophie, after one of Scottish ancestors.  As she is writing this tale, she realizes that her story may not be based on fiction after all. Carrie is starting to "remember" various things that happened to Sophie and she starts to wonder if it is some type of ancestral memory.  Readers get to experience what happened to Sophie as Carrie writes the story as well as Carrie's journey of writing the book and living in Scotland. Kearsley weaves a magical and smart tale that I loved to be lost in. Fans of historical fiction as well as Diana Gabaldon will Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea.

Carrie is someone I was instantly fascinated with due to her occupation as a historical writer. I loved to learn how she was inspired by Scotland as well as her research methods. The more she learned about Slains Castle and the history, the more I was captivated. As she writes Sophie, her ancestor's story, I became invested in not only Carrie's quest to bring this story to life, but also Sophie's story.  I am very much into genealogy, so that was fun to ponder the idea of ancestral memory.  

The Winter Sea is not just about Sophie's story though. Kearsley expertly switches to Carrie's perspective and readers get glimpses into her life in Scotland. As Carrie writes her book, she meets new people and her own life is filled with some romance as well.

I absolutely loved how Kearsley weaved The Winter Sea. Carrie would be inspired to write about Sophie and then we were taken back in time to 1700s Scotland, but then the narration would easily jump back to present day Carrie working hard writing her story and her adventures in Scotland.  So, The Winter Sea isn't exactly time travel per se, but it involves a type of flashback to the past as we live through Sophie's story. The back and forth method Kearsley employed was well done and not confusing in the least.

Fans of Diana Gabladon's Outlander will enjoy The Winter Sea; however, this story is a little more quiet than Outlander. The action scenes aren't as gruesome and the romantic scenes aren't as scandalous nor as detailed. However, if you can appreciate Scotland in the 1700s, you'll love to be transported back and be completely intrigued by Sophie's story. I am very happy that I decided to dust this one off my shelf and finally read it; in fact, I plan on checking out more of Kearsley's novels in the future.


  1. I'm so glad you liked this! It is one of my favorites by Kearsley. I also loved Shadowy Horses and the book that ties them both together, The Firebird.

    The writing style is quieter but I really enjoyed it. Normally when I read a novel set in two different time periods I prefer the historical over the contemporary and with this one I liked both story lines so I didn't feel impatient like I usually do to get back to the historical characters.

    1. Thank you for the recommendation, Christina! I definitely enjoyed it and want to check out her other books too. Perhaps I will check out Shadowy Horses next and then The Firebird. I really enjoy dyer writing style and how she makes it a unique sort of time travel story. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

  2. I've picked up many a Kearsley book but have yet to actually read one.Someday!

    1. I hope you do! I haven't read her other books, but really enjoyed this one. I may try Shadowy Horses next. Thanks for visiting, Linda!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Christina! I've got several that I really want to go back and read; you're inspiring me to dust them off, as well!

    1. I know, right?! I have so many books that are sitting on my shelves and I have been trying to dust them off as well, but there are so many fantastic new releases. :) Bookworm problems, right? Thanks for dropping by, Tara!


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