Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Book Review: The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

Pages: 464
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Bellewether,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "In the autumn of 1707, old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England. At the same time, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to bring the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.  Queen Anne's commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun paying out money sent up from London to settle the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier--an ill-fated venture that left Scotland all but bankrupt.  When the young widow of a Darien sailor comes forward to collect her husband's wages, her claim is challenged. One of the men assigned to investigate has only days to decide if she's honest, or if his own feelings are blinding him to the truth.  The Vanished Days is a prequel and companion novel to The Winter Sea, with action that overlaps some of the action in that book. The Vanished Days goes back in time to the 1680s and introduces the reader to the Moray and Graeme families."


Lily Aitcheson's husband has died while serving his country during the disastrous Darien expedition.  She is making claim to him, so she can receive the death benefits, but it's proving to be quite the investigation as she cannot completely prove she was married to him.  While investigating her claim, Kearsley takes us back to Lily's childhood and young adulthood to helps us understand her better. The story is also told through Sergeant Adam Williamson, who is investigating Lily's case.  The more he learns about Lily, the more complicated it all gets.  Also, things are anything but peaceful in Scotland now.  There's people who want the Jacobite King back on the throne and the state of Edinburgh is tumultuous. While investigating Lily's case, loyalties will be tested, truths will float to the surface, and many mysteries will be uncovered. The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley is the third book in her Scottish series, but it can be read as a stand alone; fans of historical fiction shouldn't miss this immersive gem!

Lily is a really complex character in The Vanished Days. The more we learn about her childhood, the more I felt for her.  Her parents both died when she was young and a family takes her in when she is but a child.  There were some happy times in her childhood, especially when she befriends Jamie Graeme, who has promised to always be there for her. However, as she grows older she is faced with difficult events in her life dealing with men in positions of power.  These events force her to leave her old life behind.   

As I mentioned, Kearsley has Adam, the investigator, narrate some chapters and it was definitely an interesting technique as readers don't really know who he is. He is trying to figure out if Lily was indeed ever married, but she is having a hard time even proving that simple fact as the people who witnessed her marriage are now all dead. Slowly, as Adam questions Lily, we learn more about her childhood, and things start to become clearer.  However, Gilroy, the other investigator, isn't buying it one bit.

Kearsley, as always, brings to life the time period very well in The Vanished Days.  I was familiar with the Jacobite Rebellion, thanks to Outlander, but Kearsley takes us on a deep dive into Scottish history.  She brings the unsettled times to life very well and expertly depicts how this time period could specifically be difficult for women as they have little to no power.  Don't count Lily out though! She has many secrets and plans up her sleeve!

My only issue with The Vanished Days is the fact that it took awhile to get going. The first half of the book was very dense with its historical and political details. Thankfully once you get through a lot of the heavy details, things start to pick up and it becomes very suspenseful. I was questioning so much!

Speaking of suspense, there's a lot of twists and turns in The Vanished Days. There's betrayal, mixed up identities, romance, politics,'s got it all!  I found myself going back to re-read certain portions that were clues, which I initially missed.  Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the plot twists in this one! I recommend The Vanished Days to fans of Kearsley as well as fans of Outlander and historically rich fiction. 

So, are you a fan of Susanna Kearsley? If so, what's your favorite of her novels? Did you read The Vanished Days yet? Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. I'm definitely a Kearsley fan and this one is on my TBR!

    1. I look forward to your thoughts on it, Angela! Thanks for dropping by!


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