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The Vanished Days

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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 com 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. I've loved every one of Susanna's books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly's delicate touch with characters--sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won't let go!--DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander From international bestselling author Susanna Kearsley comes a historical tale of intrigue and revolution in Scotland, where the exile of King James brought plots, machinations, suspicion and untold bravery to light. An investigation of a young widow's secrets by a man who's far from objective, leads to a multi-layered tale of adventure, endurance, romance...and the courage to hope.


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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 com 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. I've loved every one of Susanna's books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly's delicate touch with characters--sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won't let go!--DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander From international bestselling author Susanna Kearsley comes a historical tale of intrigue and revolution in Scotland, where the exile of King James brought plots, machinations, suspicion and untold bravery to light. An investigation of a young widow's secrets by a man who's far from objective, leads to a multi-layered tale of adventure, endurance, romance...and the courage to hope.

30 review for The Vanished Days

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Ok, I’ll admit that watching the tv series Outlander made me pick this novel. It’s an earlier time period, taking place in 1707 with flashbacks to the late 17th century, but it still covers the Jacobite rebellions in Scotland. This time, it’s James III (the Old Pretender) seeking to recover the joint throne of England and Scotland from which his father was deposed (or abdicated depending on who's telling the tale). There’s an interesting mystery behind the story. In a bid to calm down the Scotti Ok, I’ll admit that watching the tv series Outlander made me pick this novel. It’s an earlier time period, taking place in 1707 with flashbacks to the late 17th century, but it still covers the Jacobite rebellions in Scotland. This time, it’s James III (the Old Pretender) seeking to recover the joint throne of England and Scotland from which his father was deposed (or abdicated depending on who's telling the tale). There’s an interesting mystery behind the story. In a bid to calm down the Scottish, the English had provided funds to compensate Scots involved in the Darien scheme, including those that had lost family members. The funds are to be disbursed by the Commissioners of the Equivalent. A young widow comes forward , but her claim is disputed. Two men are tasked with establishing the truth of her claim. We learn her story through interviews with her and others. The mystery is why her claim is deemed important enough to even investigate. Lily didn’t have an easy life, losing both her mother and father at an early age. I enjoyed the story of her life, bringing into play a variety of lifestyles - tradesmen, criminals, army and the Scottish nobility. The story is narrated by one of the men investigating her claim, Adam Williamson and we also learn his entire backstory. Both characters are fully developed and I was totally invested in both of them. Kudos to Kearsley for giving us an in depth picture of the time and place. She also did a great job coming up with a very satisfying ending. I’ll warn potential readers, I kept finding myself searching Wikipedia to make sure I really understood the political background as Kearsley tends to assume the reader knows it. But she’s done an amazing amount of research on the characters, most of whom actually existed. My thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for an advance copy of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    After being disappointed by Bellewether, I am happy to report this book is much better! In fact, Kearsley even strays slightly from her usual formula: two main characters that are somehow relating to one another but who each exist in two separate timelines. In this book however we get two main characters who actually meet each other, and then we get flashback chapters told in chronological order of only one character’s life. It’s a small but significant change that I really liked. And best of al After being disappointed by Bellewether, I am happy to report this book is much better! In fact, Kearsley even strays slightly from her usual formula: two main characters that are somehow relating to one another but who each exist in two separate timelines. In this book however we get two main characters who actually meet each other, and then we get flashback chapters told in chronological order of only one character’s life. It’s a small but significant change that I really liked. And best of all, the ending of the book was great! So if you want historical fiction with fully developed characters and a story that includes a dash of romance - go pick this up!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    4.5 stars. Wow, this one really got me in the feels! It was good but a little slow for a long while, but the plot got really exciting toward the end, when all the pieces started falling into place. The Vanished Days is set in Scotland during the late 1600's/early 1700's. Kearsley includes a dual timeline plot again, but a much tighter one, only 10-25 years apart. In the later timeline, Sergeant Adam Williamson is unexpectedly pulled into an investigation of a woman's claim that she was married t 4.5 stars. Wow, this one really got me in the feels! It was good but a little slow for a long while, but the plot got really exciting toward the end, when all the pieces started falling into place. The Vanished Days is set in Scotland during the late 1600's/early 1700's. Kearsley includes a dual timeline plot again, but a much tighter one, only 10-25 years apart. In the later timeline, Sergeant Adam Williamson is unexpectedly pulled into an investigation of a woman's claim that she was married to a man who has died and is entitled to inherit some money as a result. The earlier timeline follows the often traumatic childhood and young womanhood of this woman, Lily Aitcheson. This novel weaves in some characters and plot threads with Kearsley's other excellent books, The Winter Sea and its sequel, The Firebird. The other two books both involve a paranormal element, but not this one. The Vanished Days can be read stand-alone, but reading all three books definitely helps familiarize you with the background and characters and get invested. I thought at first this one was a prequel, but it's actually set at the same time period as The Winter Sea, just with different main characters (some of the Winter Sea characters are mentioned or appear as minor characters). It's a very rich setting in the Jacobean era. Kearsley has done a ton of research, and that definitely shows. Full review to come. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC! Initial post: YAY! I got a last-minute NetGalley approval for the latest Susanna Kearsley book coming out … tomorrow. 😂

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars! I was thrilled to see this prequel/companion to Kearsley’s The Winter Sea! The story started slow, but I developed a quick attachment to Lilly & her story is what kept me plowing through. I struggled a bit trying to follow the laws & political workings of this time period. A lot going on in Scotland with the Jacobites and religious tensions. I had no idea that Scotland tried to establish a colony in Caledonia (The Darien scheme). I found this part very interesting/educational, es ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars! I was thrilled to see this prequel/companion to Kearsley’s The Winter Sea! The story started slow, but I developed a quick attachment to Lilly & her story is what kept me plowing through. I struggled a bit trying to follow the laws & political workings of this time period. A lot going on in Scotland with the Jacobites and religious tensions. I had no idea that Scotland tried to establish a colony in Caledonia (The Darien scheme). I found this part very interesting/educational, especially, after finding additional info online. This was probably going to be a 3/3.5 star novel… until the twist that turned the story on its head. I did not see it coming. As much as I loved The Winter Sea, I wish I’d read this first because I think I would’ve enjoyed it even more. 3/3.5 stars but the absolutely brilliant ending bummed it up to 4/4.5 stars. ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    Interesting prequel story that covers Scottish history, political uprisings, and divided loyalties. There is a dual timeline, and begins when a young widow, comes forward to claim her dead husband's wages. He was killed in the Darien uprising, which was both a disaster and made Scotland practically destitute. A man, among others, is designated to find out if her claims are true, but along the way his feelings become intertwined with the truth. It is an adventurous story, as in the struggle betwee Interesting prequel story that covers Scottish history, political uprisings, and divided loyalties. There is a dual timeline, and begins when a young widow, comes forward to claim her dead husband's wages. He was killed in the Darien uprising, which was both a disaster and made Scotland practically destitute. A man, among others, is designated to find out if her claims are true, but along the way his feelings become intertwined with the truth. It is an adventurous story, as in the struggle between religion and rulers take on massive control and forces the people into choices they don't want to make. Told beautifully with a flourishing stye this book would appeal to anyone who loves the history of Scotland. Thank you to Susanna Kearsley, Sourcebook Landmark, and NetGalley for a copy of this story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4 Take Me Back in Time stars This one fulfilled my Scottish historical fiction spot! I was completely transported to days filled with royalty, intrigue and plotting, romance, the Jacobite rebellion, power and politics, and hidden identities. Author Susanna Kearsley cast her spell on me and for the hours I spent reading this one I was engrossed in the story, the characters, and the adventure. I especially liked the story of Lily, a young woman who has been raised in a multitude of households, manip 4 Take Me Back in Time stars This one fulfilled my Scottish historical fiction spot! I was completely transported to days filled with royalty, intrigue and plotting, romance, the Jacobite rebellion, power and politics, and hidden identities. Author Susanna Kearsley cast her spell on me and for the hours I spent reading this one I was engrossed in the story, the characters, and the adventure. I especially liked the story of Lily, a young woman who has been raised in a multitude of households, manipulated and yet she remains a strong woman. Forced into a life of serving others, she’s now claiming the small payment due to her husband now lost at sea. There’s an inquiry though to disprove her claim of marriage and we discover her whole story in the course of the proceedings. My heart went out to Lily and I so rooted for her happiness and fulfillment. Would she ultimately be successful and get the money? There’s much at stake in this one. If you are looking for an escapist historical read, this one fits the bill! Meticulously researched and the reader is firmly placed in this time. My great thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the early copy of this one to read and review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    How cleverly written is this prequel to the book The Winter Sea! A Scottish historical fiction is weaved in with the other book and even overlaps in the chapters. I've not read one that does this, so I was even more intrigued than the fantastic research put into the writing. I'm not sure I understood it all since I try to stay away from the political aspects of books, but the time period swept me away. Considering the Jacobite rebellions and the Darien Scheme, it diminishes the exile of King Jam How cleverly written is this prequel to the book The Winter Sea! A Scottish historical fiction is weaved in with the other book and even overlaps in the chapters. I've not read one that does this, so I was even more intrigued than the fantastic research put into the writing. I'm not sure I understood it all since I try to stay away from the political aspects of books, but the time period swept me away. Considering the Jacobite rebellions and the Darien Scheme, it diminishes the exile of King James with suspicion and protesting in the Scottish Highlands. As the New Union crept into England, Queen Anne tried to bring new life into the people with a payout to the families who lost a loved one during the attempt to bring back the former king. The story is built around Lily who is one of the widow's who attempts to collect her husband's wages. When she is met with disregard and disapproval, the story is told through interviews with her and flashbacks of her struggles and resilience. The story closes in on a nation betrayed, a love story that will leave you breathless and the loss during a period of deception and greed. I can't imagine the hours of research that went into making this book, but after giving a small taste of the next book within this one, I'm hooked with what happens to these people you get to know and their struggles. What is even more fascinating is at the end of the book it gives a look at the changes made about the characters and the real ones depicted. Excellent writing skills! Thanks NetGalley and SourceBooks Landmark for this title in exchange for my honest review!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Historical fiction set in Scotland during the 1700's. This is the story of Lily Graeme and Adam Williamson, which is narrated by Adam. Politics and religion are at the top of everyone's minds as the new Union of Scotland with England is the trigger for political upheaval. There is a great deal of complicated history in this book, that I have to admit I had trouble following at times (my failing, I'm sure, since I'm not too strong in Scottish history), but the story of Lily and Adam was fascinati Historical fiction set in Scotland during the 1700's. This is the story of Lily Graeme and Adam Williamson, which is narrated by Adam. Politics and religion are at the top of everyone's minds as the new Union of Scotland with England is the trigger for political upheaval. There is a great deal of complicated history in this book, that I have to admit I had trouble following at times (my failing, I'm sure, since I'm not too strong in Scottish history), but the story of Lily and Adam was fascinating and I was more interested in what was happening in the dual timelines in the book. This is the prequel to The Winter Sea, which I very much enjoyed reading as well. I'm sure there was a great deal of research in writing this book. I enjoyed reading of Lily's struggles and admired her strength. The ending surprised me - which I liked! Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on October 5, 2021.

  9. 5 out of 5

    aarya

    Content Notes: (view spoiler)[familial death (by the government, war, illness, etc); sexual grooming of child; attempted rape of child; imprisonment/indenture of child; attempted prostitution of child (hide spoiler)] 4.5 stars I burst into tears like ten times and stayed up until 5 am, which is how you know Susanna Kearsley wrote a good one. She's one of the best writers of historical fiction right now and a skilled spellcaster of black magic (why else would I care about the Jacobites so much?! Content Notes: (view spoiler)[familial death (by the government, war, illness, etc); sexual grooming of child; attempted rape of child; imprisonment/indenture of child; attempted prostitution of child (hide spoiler)] 4.5 stars I burst into tears like ten times and stayed up until 5 am, which is how you know Susanna Kearsley wrote a good one. She's one of the best writers of historical fiction right now and a skilled spellcaster of black magic (why else would I care about the Jacobites so much?! Damn those Stewarts!). SUCH a treat for folks who love the Moray/Graeme-connected books. They aren't the protagonists, but the periphery is a delight all the same. I... have no idea how to review THE VANISHED DAYS? I don't even know if I SHOULD review until I've reread a couple times. A brilliant execution of (mild spoiler about plot structure, not content) (view spoiler)[ unreliable narrator, which means that my reread will be VASTLY different than my first read. I bet it's a totally different book since I missed most of the clues initially (in my defense, I read from 11 pm to 5 am. Not my most clear-headed time of the day. (hide spoiler)] . I don't even know what to say about the plot other than it's best to go in without knowing anything. I provided content notes above, if needed. One of the scenes took me aback wrt the darkness, but it was not gratuitous. THE VANISHED DAYS is darker than the other connected books, but it still left me happy in the end. SK puts her characters through the wringer, but I promise the ending is optimistic. THE VANISHED DAYS is a prequel to The Winter Sea and intersects with many familiar characters (seriously: so many. I was screaming incoherently despite the novel being chill with on-page introductions). The Morays! The Graemes! Captain Gordon! Others I won't name because you will scream! I'm glad the arc had a family tree because I really needed it (why are they all named Anna and James?? Okay, I do know that it's based on a real-life family tree, lolsob). I was also the embodiment of that Leo-pointing-at-TV gif when a secondary character said the words "The Vanished Days" late into the book. I liked how both MCs were "commoners," for lack of a better word. The connected books haven't always been about aristocrats, but the MCs were still extremely privileged in society (the Moray/Graeme families are blood relations to lairds and grew up in a safe household). This is not true of Lily and [redacted], who have been unsafe/uncomfortable from childhood to present circumstances. It's interesting how... undevoted some of the characters are to the Jacobite cause. Maybe they're sympathetic, but they're also not passionately fighting for it. [Redacted] says that it's pointless to take a side in politics/religion because the tides always change. Other characters frequently (and tiredly) say that there's always an invasion (in the context of how it ruins their lives/opportunities to travel). None of them are zealots to a cause or "true king" -- they're just ordinary people who get caught up in the political battles of rich aristocrats. It made me realize that the Morays/Graemes arduously fought for the cause because they could afford it. I have other thorny thoughts on the Jacobites and privilege (specifically how it was interesting to view the Moray/Graeme family from an outsider/across-class-lines POV), but they're spoilery. 🤐 I could go on and on, but I won't (my fingers are tired from typing, lol). Such a great read from Kearsley and 100% worth the sleepless night. Fingers crossed for a book featuring Maggie and other spoilery names mentioned at the end. I hope THE VANISHED DAYS works for other SK fans (please talk to me once you've read it!). I have SO MANY thoughts -- on Jacobites, on prostitution, on the Darien scheme. My brain is a swirling chaotic mass and I can't unload on anyone right now, alas. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    In 18th century Scotland, Lily is trying to prove that she is entitled to financial remuneration for the death of her husband in the service of his country; the problem is in proving that they were married. The narrative switches between Lily's childhood and her life as an adult. I enjoyed the surprise ending, but never really connected with any of the characters. Recommended for those who enjoy well researched historical fiction, and who have an interest in the religious and political conflicts In 18th century Scotland, Lily is trying to prove that she is entitled to financial remuneration for the death of her husband in the service of his country; the problem is in proving that they were married. The narrative switches between Lily's childhood and her life as an adult. I enjoyed the surprise ending, but never really connected with any of the characters. Recommended for those who enjoy well researched historical fiction, and who have an interest in the religious and political conflicts of Scotland. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. Ehh. I really wish that I had rethought getting this as an ARC. Kearsley has been hit or miss for me for years now and this one was a miss. I just found myself bored by the entire storyline and didn't really ever care that much about Lilly. Kearsley does her research though and you can tell by the amount of detail we get in this historical novel set in Scotland in the late 1600s/1700s. One thing to note is th Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. Ehh. I really wish that I had rethought getting this as an ARC. Kearsley has been hit or miss for me for years now and this one was a miss. I just found myself bored by the entire storyline and didn't really ever care that much about Lilly. Kearsley does her research though and you can tell by the amount of detail we get in this historical novel set in Scotland in the late 1600s/1700s. One thing to note is this is a prequel to The Winter Sea. "The Vanished Days" follows Lily in 1707 (present day) who is widowed. She comes forward asking for payment for her husband who was in service to Scotland as part of the Darien expedition. For those who don't know the whole Darien thing was an attempt to gain money by establishing a colony on the Isthmus of Panama. It did not go well. Many historians pointed out that this led to the weakening of Scotland with regards to the Act of Union. That Act led to England and Scotland becoming one kingdom. Lily's claim though is challenged and this book follows the investigator who is looking into her claims. Due to that, we jump back and forth through periods of her life (childhood (late 1680s and on) and adult (1700s). Not too much to say about Lily the way the story is told was a weird choice. We have Adam who is investigating Lily's claim and sometimes he talks to her, but most of it is him talking to others about her. I don't now the narrative was a choice. I think as another reader said the historical aspects are what makes this book interesting. The characters do not. It didn't help that Kearsley has real life people in this and that for some weird reason always takes me out of a historical fiction novel. After a while it just felt like there were too many people and the main plot got lost after a while. I thought the flow was way too slow. The historical parts which are the best parts of this, also read as dry and uninteresting after a while. The setting of the book takes place in Edinburgh and Leith, Scotland. As I said above, the time period is late 1600s to early 1700s and of course we get into the Jacobite uprisings.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    I was in history-nerd heaven with this one. A big 'thank you' to several friends who advised me not to peek ahead. I do have the habit of jumping ahead when I get anxious about where the story is going, but I reined myself in and I'm glad I did. A few thoughts: I really drank up all the history details--the church conflicts, the court politics, the family loyalties, all of the day to day life descriptions. All that helped me picture our main characters and try to understand their actions and emotio I was in history-nerd heaven with this one. A big 'thank you' to several friends who advised me not to peek ahead. I do have the habit of jumping ahead when I get anxious about where the story is going, but I reined myself in and I'm glad I did. A few thoughts: I really drank up all the history details--the church conflicts, the court politics, the family loyalties, all of the day to day life descriptions. All that helped me picture our main characters and try to understand their actions and emotions. I really loved that Adam and Lily were common folk, caught up in the ebb and flow of events that the rich and powerful set in motion. They had free will, of course, but their options were constrained by their circumstances. Yet they tried, always, to do their best, and to keep their heads above water while not losing their souls in the process. I though Kearsley did a marvelous job of increasing the sense of claustrophobia as the story progressed. When Lily reached her darkest moment of despair, I felt as trapped as she did. I was glad I had just re-read The Winter Sea, as this book overlaps a portion of that one. (Though it is not necessary to have read WS first). And, as a long-time fan, I enjoyed the Easter Eggs scattered here and there, referencing other books of hers. I galloped through my first read of the book, then turned around and slowly re-read it--the better to savor all of the author's very clever storytelling. It is still sitting out, tempting me to dip back in. I just might succumb to the temptation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    Canadian author Susanna Kearsley is known for her in-depth research and vivid descriptions that bring history to life in stories that have two timelines - usually one modern and the other historical. In this latest book, a companion/prequel to her much loved book The Winter Sea, Kearsley changes things up a bit by setting both of her timelines in 18th century Scotland. The first timeline follows the investigation into whether Lily, a young widow of a Scottish soldier, is owed financial compensati Canadian author Susanna Kearsley is known for her in-depth research and vivid descriptions that bring history to life in stories that have two timelines - usually one modern and the other historical. In this latest book, a companion/prequel to her much loved book The Winter Sea, Kearsley changes things up a bit by setting both of her timelines in 18th century Scotland. The first timeline follows the investigation into whether Lily, a young widow of a Scottish soldier, is owed financial compensation after his death while in service to his country. The second timeline shows the reader details of Lily's childhood. Kearsley, a former museum curator, is known for her love of research and this book is filled with detailed historical facts. But it felt like the storytelling took a back seat to the historical aspect and by including some secondary characters who were based on real people, I feel she may have limited the range of her narrative. I also found the historical details sometimes confusing, and I struggled to keep straight the historical facts and the large character list (of which there were several men named Jamie). The story takes a bit of time to get going, but if readers are patient, Kearsley sets the stage for an ending that will have readers quickly turning the pages until the final twist. This isn't my favourite book by Susanna Kearsley, but she remains one of my go-to Canadian authors when I'm in the mood for historical fiction. I appreciate her passion for history, and I think this would be a great pick for Scottish history buffs. Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for my complimentary digital copy given in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blackjack

    4.5 Maybe not since Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd have I had the rug pulled out from under me as a reader the way that The Vanished Days accomplishes. I finished this book in the wee hours and immediately had to flip back to earlier scenes to understand all the clues and misdirection from my first read. Secrets and secret identities abound in this book, but even without the numerous surprises, this really is a fantastic read with tight plotting, surrounded, of course, by Kearsley' 4.5 Maybe not since Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd have I had the rug pulled out from under me as a reader the way that The Vanished Days accomplishes. I finished this book in the wee hours and immediately had to flip back to earlier scenes to understand all the clues and misdirection from my first read. Secrets and secret identities abound in this book, but even without the numerous surprises, this really is a fantastic read with tight plotting, surrounded, of course, by Kearsley's ever-scrupulous historical research of daily life during the Jacobin resistance movements of the late 17th century. Of particular note in this book is the weariness so many characters have about impending invasions to unseat the British from Scotland. I'm accustomed to heroic tales of Scottish resistance where it seems as if everyone down to the lowliest members of society are ready to fall on their nationalist sword, and so it was interesting to read a book where a number of characters are just rather ambivalent about politics, and more than a few are relatively indifferent too about factional wars between Protestants and Catholics. In the midst of macro turmoil is a more commonplace struggle of survival for people without an education or family wealth or titles to propel them up the class ladder. A significant part of this story is also about the extra burdens women face with so limited options in life. At the heart of the novel is Lily Aitcheson and her fortitude to surmount numerous obstacles and forge ahead with her life without the protection of her family. Adam, the narrator of the book, too is a lonely and rootless character, and his bond with Lily from the start emphasizes a key theme of the book, which is the search for a "family," even when family is defined other than blood ties. The best parts of the book for me centered around the motley group of young criminals and prostitutes forming a family as a bulwark against the harshness of daily life. The book shifts constantly between the grind of daily life for the main characters and the machinations of larger than life political figures vying for rule. The intersections between the two spheres are deftly handled but always point to the undesirable ways in which politics and war can squash individual human happiness. It's a harsh existence much of the time, but Kearsley writes romance and I felt by the end that the main characters here are going to have their happy endings. Most certainly a book to reread, especially in light of the revelations in the last 20% of the book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    A fantastic historical blockbuster of a novel. Susanna Kearsley has outdone herself! The depth of research into Scottish history the author has done is easy to be seen. It deserves every one of the five stars I've given it. Concentration is needed as there is a huge cast of characters and the historical element is immense. This book is a prequel to The Winter Sea/Sophia's Secret which is still my favourite Kearsley book since I first read it years ago. It's a dual timeline but the timelines are A fantastic historical blockbuster of a novel. Susanna Kearsley has outdone herself! The depth of research into Scottish history the author has done is easy to be seen. It deserves every one of the five stars I've given it. Concentration is needed as there is a huge cast of characters and the historical element is immense. This book is a prequel to The Winter Sea/Sophia's Secret which is still my favourite Kearsley book since I first read it years ago. It's a dual timeline but the timelines are not too far apart. We begin in 1707 and the back story starts in 1683. Lily is the main character and I admired her greatly. Her life has never been easy but she just gets on with it. The story is told through the eyes of Adam who is working, by chance, for the Commission of the Equivalent. This was set up to investigate claims by family who claimed recompense for relatives deaths who died in their duty to their country. Lily is trying to prove her marriage is genuine but there is added interest in her claim which makes for intrigue. It's a novel of family, or lack of family, of friendship, loyalty and deep, deep love. The twist at the end was brilliant! I didn't see it coming but thinking back I realise there was a point when it should have clicked with me. The depiction of Scotland in this era is wonderfully done. I was sucked in from the beginning and held until the last page. I spent quite a bit of time afterwards looking up information on parts of the history related in the novel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction or just a damn good read. Thanks to SOURCE books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book to read and review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren (thebookscript)

    "I often think about the vanished days that Captain Gordon spoke about -- the ones that are behind us that we cannot live again -- and how he wished it might be possible to make the clock run backward so that we could live those days a second time...and live them better. But he had it wrong, I think, because I would not wish to change the way I lived them". The Vanished Days is masterfully crafted Scottish historical fiction and I did not expect any less from Susanna Kearsley. This is technicall "I often think about the vanished days that Captain Gordon spoke about -- the ones that are behind us that we cannot live again -- and how he wished it might be possible to make the clock run backward so that we could live those days a second time...and live them better. But he had it wrong, I think, because I would not wish to change the way I lived them". The Vanished Days is masterfully crafted Scottish historical fiction and I did not expect any less from Susanna Kearsley. This is technically the prequel to her Winter Sea, which is one of my all time favorite stories. You do not have to read one before the other in order to enjoy both. This is a rich journey full of mystery, Scottish history, romance and much in between. It's a slower paced book for the first quarter to a half as it sets up the complex historical background and trails between multiple perspectives. Kearsley does not skimp on the research in her books and they always feel 100% authentic to the times and political climate. Once I hit a certain point I found I could not put it down and the ending really was absolutely fantastic. This is the kind of book that you'll take your time through. It will educate you, make you feel, and transport you to another place in time. The ending was everything. Its already a book I know I will re read in the future. Thank you to Sourcebooks for my requested copy. All opinions are honest and completely my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    SK did it again! And that plot twist at the end was just brilliant!! -scottish history & political intrigue -divided loyalties -masterfully plotted -dual timeline -jacobite rebellion (gotta love those jacobites) I literally just want to pick it back up and read it again!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    4 STARS I think it's pretty fair to say, I'm going to love every book Susanna Kearsley writes. I just like the way her mind thinks. I love her characters, and I love the romantic tales she spins out of history. This one takes place at the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century. This book though differs from most of her others in that the element of supernatural or even time travel is not there. It is straight historical romance. It takes place prior to or simultaneously to 4 STARS I think it's pretty fair to say, I'm going to love every book Susanna Kearsley writes. I just like the way her mind thinks. I love her characters, and I love the romantic tales she spins out of history. This one takes place at the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century. This book though differs from most of her others in that the element of supernatural or even time travel is not there. It is straight historical romance. It takes place prior to or simultaneously to The Winter Sea. And there is a shared character, but it is most definitely a separate tale taking place during the same time in history. The book did start out a little slow for me. But I was hooked once I got past the half-way point. It has a surprise at the end. I won't elaborate, but I never suspected what was revealed. If you are a fan of Kearsley's books, you we no doubt love this one too. It wasn't my favorite book of hers, but I did enjoy it just the same.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is the prequel to "The Winter Sea." I read "The Winter Sea" in 2011 and it my favorite book that I read that year. Sheer perfection. So, needless to say, I was quite excited to get my hands on this one! I have to say that it started out a bit slow. The set up with all the politics, laws and religious tensions and background was very involved, but key to understanding the gravity of the story and plays a significant role. The situation involved the turbulent times during the ongoing conflicts This is the prequel to "The Winter Sea." I read "The Winter Sea" in 2011 and it my favorite book that I read that year. Sheer perfection. So, needless to say, I was quite excited to get my hands on this one! I have to say that it started out a bit slow. The set up with all the politics, laws and religious tensions and background was very involved, but key to understanding the gravity of the story and plays a significant role. The situation involved the turbulent times during the ongoing conflicts between England's domination over Scotland and Scotland's fight for independence. There are many characters involved, some known and others in the background pulling strings, all with hidden or different agendas. It is more than obvious to realize the amount of historical research and time expended by the author to include true facts and historical figures and to weave them into a mind-blowing story. However, very early in the story we are introduced to the main character, Lily Aitcheson and she immediately captured my attention. That is what catches you, holds you and keeps you captive as you delve into the complicated mystery of this story. And, oh what a story! Then it came a point in this book when you couldn't get me to put the book down for any reason! Things moved and moved fast! I felt like I was in a tornado and things were flying! What? What? Are you kidding me? Wait! What? LOL! It was great! Oh yes, there were sly and sneaky clues cleverly put in that I passed right by because I was led in one direction looking over here when those clues were over there! And, the tension! It was coming from every direction and you didn't know who you could trust and was telling the truth or who had an ulterior motive and was going to stab you in the back. Spies here, there and everywhere. And, yet, it accurately portrayed the times and what was a stake in the country at that time. After I finished reading it (including the author's comments and explanations at the end), I had to sit and contemplate the whole thing for a while. How did she do that? It is simply an outstanding book and my mind was blown. Now, I have to go back and read it again, knowing what I now know, to see exactly how Susanna Kearsley stuck those clues in and where. This author NEVER ceases to amaze me or let me down! She is a master at her craft.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors and I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I found out it would be a prequel to the Slains series, now renamed as the Scottish series. In this historical novel, Adam is called in to investigate a marriage claim brought forth by Lily. They’re drawn to each other and this both spurs on and impedes Adam’s tangled investigation as he seeks to learn who Lily is. I didn’t know anything about the failed Darien expedition and it was interesting to lea Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors and I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I found out it would be a prequel to the Slains series, now renamed as the Scottish series. In this historical novel, Adam is called in to investigate a marriage claim brought forth by Lily. They’re drawn to each other and this both spurs on and impedes Adam’s tangled investigation as he seeks to learn who Lily is. I didn’t know anything about the failed Darien expedition and it was interesting to learn about it through the lens of its failure, especially alongside the Jacobite quest. It’s difficult to say much more about the story because the enjoyment lies in the way the story unfolds. Kearsley’s books typically feature dual timelines and tend to have a light paranormal element. The Vanished Days is a departure on both fronts, with nary a paranormal element. With its two settings of 1707 and flashbacks to 1683, I suppose this is technically a dual timeline novel. However, Kearsley usually has a more contemporary POV anchoring the story and then flashes back to the historical timeline with a different character’s POV. That is my preference as I’m much more of a contemporary reader. I was more invested in the 1707 storyline, where the action of solving the mystery unfolded. Whenever we’d flash back to Lily’s earlier life, I was less interested in reading, in part because it starts with her POV as a child and then the many hard things that befell her. If I was more of a historical fiction reader, this one likely would have worked from the start. Because I’m not, it was trickier for me to get lost in the story. I enjoyed what I was reading but it didn’t completely grip me until I got to the last 100 pages. Then I couldn’t read fast enough because things started to come together and we left most of the past storyline behind. Up to that point, I wasn’t really sure where the story was heading. Once everything turned, I was impressed, to say the least. Now that I know why it was structured the way it was, I suspect I will enjoy this even more the second time around and my rating will go up higher. I don’t want to spoil one bit of what unfolds because it’s worth hanging in there but I also want to go back and see what I missed the first time. Even though this isn’t one of my favorite Kearsleys, it was richly researched and still thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of the Slains books will find a slew of familiar names. I read The Winter Sea five years ago and The Firebird four years ago so most of the time, I wasn’t sure if I was recognizing a character or not. The Author’s Note at the end is thorough and well worth reading through for confirmation. Now I want to re-read both while the details are fresh in my mind. A quick note about the content warnings that is also a spoiler: (view spoiler)[The twist is that we have an unreliable narrator. That means some aspects of the stories are not completely accurate but since they are presented on page as true, the content notes will reflect that. (hide spoiler)] There is one warning I want to briefly address because there is no foreshadowing. While it’s handled with care, I could see someone becoming triggered. (view spoiler)[After Lily’s father is killed, she goes off to work for the Bell family. Mr. Bell is kind and she becomes friends with his daughter, who is around her age. When Lily turns 10, they do a bit of a birthday celebration for her. That night, Mr. Bell asks her to go with him to the stable to get something and once there, he attempts to assault her. His reasoning is she’s a woman now that she’s 10, at least according to the law then, but she is shocked and horrified. They’re interrupted before he can do much more than kiss her. Up until he asked her to go to the stables I hadn’t thought anything about Mr. Bell so this scene really caught me off guard and I could see it be upsetting for anyone who was sexually abused or assaulted. Lily’s stepmother engaged in a lot of sex worker shaming and Lily believes she must be a whore or Mr. Bell never would have done this. She is ashamed and feels she has nowhere to turn and that her stepmother will no longer accept her so she runs away. Everyone thinks she is dead until Adam begins his investigation and goes to interview Mr. Bell and his daughter. When talking to his daughter, it becomes clear that Mr. Bell sexually abused her after her mother died and that he had a history of abusing the maids as well, including one who became pregnant and was fired as a result. (hide spoiler)] Character notes: Adam is a 34 year old white Scot American Sergeant. Lily is a 31 year old white woman. This is set in 1683 and 1707 Scotland. Content notes: MMC has malaria, (view spoiler)[child sexual abuse (FMC on page and the man’s daughter off page), secondary character’s foster father planned to sell young foster daughter to a man for sexual enslavement (plan is thwarted) (hide spoiler)] , foundlings/orphan secondary characters, disabled secondary character (leg badly injured), imprisoned secondary character, pregnant secondary characters, past war, colonialism, past slaughter in war, MMC’s parents were shot and killed by men searching for Jacobites, FMC’s father was executed by a firing squad for the crime of murder (it was in his role as town guard), brother was arrested for theft at 12 and condemned to the colonies, sex worker shaming (countered later), thwarted break in, physical assault (secondary character), death of loved ones, toxic father, mob violence toward Catholics, FMC’s mother died of fever when she was 3, reference to people being shipped away to be enslaved, reference to miscarriages (not FMC), references to death of children Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)

    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 h 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! Read the rest of my review here: http://www.confessionsofabookaddict.c...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I know this has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but I absolutely loved it. Susanna is one of my all time favorite authors so I might be biased. I was captivated from the start though, and the ending completely took me by surprise. I was not disappointed with this story at all. Loved it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    okay so obviously I loved this, because I have never met a Susanna Kearsley that I didn't love, but when grading on that scale, this wasn't my favourite. I do love my Jacobites and I love my Graemes & Morays. I also really enjoyed the more nuanced look at living in Scotland during Peak Jacobite Fervour - it's not as black and white as it seems in the Slains books. All that being said, other than Lily, and her pre-1707 story, this book didn't grab me in the way I've come to expect from Kearlsey ( okay so obviously I loved this, because I have never met a Susanna Kearsley that I didn't love, but when grading on that scale, this wasn't my favourite. I do love my Jacobites and I love my Graemes & Morays. I also really enjoyed the more nuanced look at living in Scotland during Peak Jacobite Fervour - it's not as black and white as it seems in the Slains books. All that being said, other than Lily, and her pre-1707 story, this book didn't grab me in the way I've come to expect from Kearlsey (see above, re: grading on a curve) I'm going to throw the rest under a spoiler tag:(view spoiler)[ so right from the start of the book I thought "huh this narration style reminds me of Agatha Christie, specifically the The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", which is a very particular kind of spoiler but suffice it to say: there's an unreliable narrator here. and I do want to go back and re-read this soon with that very clear from the start, but I have to say I have some questions about a couple of scenes (like did the narrator mislead, or straight up lie, how planned were some events, were they total coincidences). but I absolutely give her credit for playing with my expectations, even as someone who was prepared for it to be an unreliable narrator. Also I do hope there is a Maggie story coming, I would love to jump back in with these people. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This feels like a capstone book, but at the same time, I really hope we're not done with this world because there are so many more stories I want in this extended universe. I sent many a text last night upon finish going WTF and I really can't fairly review this until I reread, but I'm not sure how much I am going to reread because it was a hard book? Not that any of the books in these related books have been easy necessarily (little Lily and little Anna, my heart), but this one definitely delve This feels like a capstone book, but at the same time, I really hope we're not done with this world because there are so many more stories I want in this extended universe. I sent many a text last night upon finish going WTF and I really can't fairly review this until I reread, but I'm not sure how much I am going to reread because it was a hard book? Not that any of the books in these related books have been easy necessarily (little Lily and little Anna, my heart), but this one definitely delved into darker topics than some of the others the author has previously written. I am also curious how it holds up on reread--sometimes unreliable narrators don't work as well when you know the trick. But we'll see. I return to Kearsley often, and I am sure this will be no different.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kay (aka) Miss Bates

    Reading my umpteenth Kearsley novel, I noticed something in her narrative I hadn’t beforehand: a common emotional trajectory that may be characterized as melancholy mood to joyful conclusion. Because they are the most historical of historical romances, their melancholy comes from Kearsley’s initial presentation of her characters as trapped by history. But she builds their strength, intelligence, and virtue and proves to us how these qualities can sometimes defeat history’s choke-hold. She writes Reading my umpteenth Kearsley novel, I noticed something in her narrative I hadn’t beforehand: a common emotional trajectory that may be characterized as melancholy mood to joyful conclusion. Because they are the most historical of historical romances, their melancholy comes from Kearsley’s initial presentation of her characters as trapped by history. But she builds their strength, intelligence, and virtue and proves to us how these qualities can sometimes defeat history’s choke-hold. She writes about ordinary people (when considered through the lens of big-name, big-battle, big-power sweep) but extraordinary in how they wrest happiness out of what appear to be insurmountable obstacles determined by history and its cruel, expedient masters, men of power over honour. At their centre are women and child characters who are victimized but not victims, exercise agency within constricting circumstances and yet are often trapped by forces beyond their capacity to fight back. In the end, characters escape to a happy life by circumventing evil using wiles without losing their essential goodness. The Vanished Days‘ Lily Aitcheson and her helpers are such. Her story is told in a dual-timeline alternating between childhood/youth and the novel’s “present-day”, the early 1700’s. Her story is narrated by one Adam Williamson, who is tasked to investigate Lily’s claim for compensation as the widow of a man who perished in Scotland’s 1698-Darien-colony-bound fleet. The blurb fills in historical detail further: There are many who believe they know what happened, but they do not know the whole of it. The rumours spread, and grow, and take their hold, and so to end them I have been persuaded now to take my pen in hand and tell the story as it should be told… Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger. When a young widow, Lily Aitcheson, comes forward to collect her lost husband’s wages, former soldier Adam Williamson is assigned to investigate her petition. As Lily tells her story, Adam has only days to discover if she’s being honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth. But sinister figures lurk in the background – is Adam being used as a pawn in an increasingly treacherous game? Through Adam’s account, we learn Lily’s story as she recounts it to him, attempting to prove her marriage to Jamie Graham, her childhood friend at Inchbrakie, Perthshire. It was an idyllic time that yet is followed by another brief time of happiness for Lily when she lives with her father and his new wife. But the times they are fraught and the “Union” with England hasn’t stirred the hearts and swords of the Jacobites any less, au contraire. When circumstances tear Lily from her family, she finds herself alone and vulnerable until she is adopted by a kindly woman of ill repute, Barbara Malcolm, where Lily lives with her foundling “brothers,” also adopted and lovingly brought up by Barbara. Barbara’s husband, Archie Browne, on the other hand, is mean-spirited and exploitative. Lily’s life is beset by his abusive machinations. There is one foundling “brother”, however, who returns from his travels years after Lily is a grown, Matthew, the love of Lily’s life and she of his. In every scene, political intrigue wars with characters trying to live their lives by building a family with a person they love. This is the narrative’s constant tension and it kept me glued, especially in the second half, to my Kindle, far into the wee hours. There are separations, losses, misjudgements, and the constant refrain of “vanished days” (from John Masefield’s “The Word”) as regret, but ultimately, the hope of better days to come. Captain Gordon (whom we met in The Winter Sea) says to Adam near the novel’s end ” ‘ … it’s a shame that we cannot reclaim those vanished days, and try to live them better.’ ” Adam’s response speaks more of future hope than regret when he retorts, ” ‘Who’s to say we would not live them worse?’ “ There is a quiet dogged dignity and strength to Adam and Lily, as their official business turns to love. They are careful, methodical, and ethical. What soon becomes evident to Adam is that Lily is ensnared in a scheme that sees her life at stake. Without spoiling the narrative, suffice to say Lily is, as with most of the female characters, trying to protect the innocent. Adam is a diffident man, but he is fully aware of right from wrong and sets out to free her. On the way, there are hinderers, but also helpers, one of whom comes as an utter, surprising delight. Kearsley’s narrative is a maze of dead and open ends as we try to follow the players, historical and fictive, who enmesh the worthy Adam and Lily, and their found families and friends. I will indulge in one moment of whinginess: I did miss Kearsley’s contemporary timeline as she wielded it in Bellewether, for example. The Vanished Days‘ alternating but akin timelines were claustrophobic in a way that Bellewether‘s contemporary and historical timelines, and especially their romances, weren’t. My whinge, however, remains a minor note to Kearsley’s pièce de resistance, a narrative twist of breath-taking aptness and vindication. ’nuff said, though, lest I give the game away. I’m sorry to say my Canadian and UK friends will have to wait till April 2022 to read The Vanished Days (what’s up with that?), while my American friends can enjoy it pronto. Miss Austen would approve of Kearsley’s lovers and their HEA and agree when I deem The Vanished Days “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma. Susanna Kearsley’s The Vanished Days is published by Sourcebooks Landmark and was released for the US on October 5th. I received an e-galley, from Sourcebooks Landmark, for the purpose of writing this review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Susanna Kearsley has written another beautiful, perceptive, and deftly written novel in The Vanished Days, with a lovely twist at the end. Unlike many of Kearsley’s recent “braided timeline” novels, there is no contemporary timeline; instead, the book follows Adam Williamson as he investigates the claim of Lily Aitcheson Graeme, a young widow whose husband perished in the ill-fated Darien expedition. The validity of the marriage is in doubt, and unless it can be proved, Lily cannot claim the mon Susanna Kearsley has written another beautiful, perceptive, and deftly written novel in The Vanished Days, with a lovely twist at the end. Unlike many of Kearsley’s recent “braided timeline” novels, there is no contemporary timeline; instead, the book follows Adam Williamson as he investigates the claim of Lily Aitcheson Graeme, a young widow whose husband perished in the ill-fated Darien expedition. The validity of the marriage is in doubt, and unless it can be proved, Lily cannot claim the money due to her as a surviving spouse. But as Adam listens to Lily’s tale of her past, and questions those who knew her, he begins to suspect that there is more to this investigation than meets the eye. What or who is its real aim? Who is lying, and who is telling the truth? And where, finally, does his own loyalty lie? The story unfolds in two timelines: Adam’s present (1707), and Lily’s past (the late 1600s.) The narrator throughout is Adam; his own tale is told in first person, while Lily’s is presented in third person. Both characters are complex and well-written, with hidden depths that slowly come to light. The novel as a whole, and Adam’s narration in particular, are beautifully constructed to keep you guessing. As you get deeper and deeper into the book, the relationships between various characters and the overall shape of what is going on become a little clearer, but it’s not until the end that everything falls solidly into place and you can see how each piece fits together. I am already looking forward to rereading The Vanished Days with that understanding in mind. I also plan to reread The Winter Sea and others in Kearsley’s Scottish series. I love how so many of Kearsley’s books interrelate in small and subtle ways. The book is billed as a prequel and companion novel to The Winter Sea; indeed, it does introduce some of the Graeme and Moray family, but with two exceptions, they play a smaller role than I expected. Still, it was a pleasure to become acquainted with some of the earlier history of both families. There’s even a small thread connecting The Vanished Days to Bellewether. However, you could absolutely read it as a standalone. I If you’ve never read Susanna Kearsley’s books, I cannot recommend her highly enough. Her novels are meticulously researched and beautifully written, subtle and supple and luminous, immersing the reader not only in the time period, but in the hearts and souls of her characters. I own very near all of them. Since it takes Ms. Kearsley about two years to research and write each novel, I have been reading her backlist slowly: savoring each book, so as not to run out of “new” ones too soon. The Vanished Days is a lovely addition to her oeuvre. NOTE: For readers unfamiliar with the history of 17th- and early 18th-century Scotland and the Darien expedition, a pair of author notes on the characters and historical accuracy offers some background, but a quick google search before reading might not come amiss. ******* Review originally published on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Hoard. FTC disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    A long one, but it held my interest and managed to surprise me. I particularly appreciated the portrayal of life in Scotland during the time period of late 1600's to early 1700's. Once invested in the main female character the pages turn quickly. It had been so long since I read the first two Scottish books of the series I had forgotten that I was not particularly fond of the first two. This one held my interest, and I felt rewarded at the conclusion. Library Loan A long one, but it held my interest and managed to surprise me. I particularly appreciated the portrayal of life in Scotland during the time period of late 1600's to early 1700's. Once invested in the main female character the pages turn quickly. It had been so long since I read the first two Scottish books of the series I had forgotten that I was not particularly fond of the first two. This one held my interest, and I felt rewarded at the conclusion. Library Loan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marg

    I had forgotten how much Kearsley loves a twist Review to come

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kaetrin

    Reviewed for Dear Author. https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/o... Fantastic. Loved. Reviewed for Dear Author. https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/o... Fantastic. Loved.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    First, credit where credit is due: this surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that, even as I read this thinking “I think Kearsley has written this story before”… and she has, just not in the way I expected. There’s both a vagueness and a self-awareness to the writing that contribute to that impression. The vagueness could be a Kearsley tic, where she gets lost in the voice or the poetry and loses the clarity necessary for storytelling. (view spoiler)[Or it could indicate a caginess, particularly whe First, credit where credit is due: this surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that, even as I read this thinking “I think Kearsley has written this story before”… and she has, just not in the way I expected. There’s both a vagueness and a self-awareness to the writing that contribute to that impression. The vagueness could be a Kearsley tic, where she gets lost in the voice or the poetry and loses the clarity necessary for storytelling. (view spoiler)[Or it could indicate a caginess, particularly when juxtaposed with this particular narrative voice - and the longer it continues, and the more narrator doubles back and interjects, the more deliberate it feels. (hide spoiler)] It also feels a little suffocating in places, where you just want to shake the text until the story falls out… The writing isn’t too self-aware, since the name-dropping isn’t too heavy-handed. But there’s a deliberate distinctiveness to other aspects of the writing (the vagueness of that first execution, I still don’t know for what reason; the juxtaposition of (view spoiler)[Matthew and Jamie (hide spoiler)] ; the lack of details of particular travel) - It’s not the shock of The Winter Sea (view spoiler)[(though I admit I expected something more along those lines, especially in the confusing moments when Matthew first shows up (hide spoiler)] and it’s not the simple bare beauty of the storytelling of The Winter Sea, either. That’s still my favorite Kearsley, and I need to reread so I can place Anna and Sophia and Kirkudbright and the Graemes and Gordons more clearly. Lily doesn’t inspire the same reaction, maybe because Lily’s story isn’t the passions of war but the skirting-of-edges around it. There’s no great loyalty here, which in a way simplifies story - just the everyday hazards of life on a knife’s edge, surrounded by disagreement which often boils over into violence. Looking back, maybe it should have been obvious. And (view spoiler)[Agatha Christie this is not (hide spoiler)] , and there are a lot of coincidences ((view spoiler)[isn’t it all too convenient that Williamson shows up at the exact moment to be assigned this inquiry? (hide spoiler)] ) within the more realistic messiness of life then… but this still surprised me, and I appreciate that.

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