If you’re looking for Scottish historical fiction, The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley is definitely a novel to check out.
Disclaimer: I got The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley for free via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
In Scottish history, politics and religion will always stand out. They are important parts of most historical fiction set in the country, especially pre-1750s. We just have to look at the likes of Outlander to see how religion and politics are everything to the Scots of the past.
It’s not surprising that The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley delves into some of this. This is a prequel novel to The Winter Sea by the same author. You don’t necessarily need to know The Winter Sea to enjoy the book, but it will help when it comes to chapters that are connected to the first novel. However, you’ll be able to delve into The Winter Sea afterward and see just how they both connect.
What is The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley about?
The novel is mostly set in 1707, but there are flashes to the late 1690s and some other parts of the early 1700s. After all, this is a story that involves tales from the characters’ pasts, and the best way to give us those stories is to show us through chapters instead of having characters just tell the story.
Adam Williamson narrates the tale for the most part. He is called to check in on the claims of Lily Graeme, who says that she is the widow of a Darien sailor. Adam and others need to ensure these claims are correct to make sure the inheritance of this sailor is given to the right person. Nowadays, it wouldn’t really be a problem, but it is one for Lily as those who witnessed their clandestine wedding are dead and there is little family around who can help her with her claims.
To make matters worse, Adam’s feelings for Lily are getting in the way of him making a decision. He needs to put his personal feelings to one side and go through the evidence to determine if she is a widow or not.
The Vanished Days book review
This is a novel that is slow to start. It took me a few chapters to really get a feel for the characters, and that’s despite already knowing The Winter Sea. There was a lot of politics thrown in, and that could take a while for readers to fully grasp. Scottish politics is not easy, especially the history of it all. However, I did love the way most of it was explained through children playing.
One the story did get into full swing, it was hard to put it down. The characters are fully fleshed out, and it’s easy to feel for Lily despite this whole story really being told from Adam’s perspective. Adam goes into details of everyone he meets to really get an understanding of who they are, even if the descriptions are on the biased side.
It is very clear that a lot of research went into the novel. Just getting a grasp of the Scottish politics of the time and just before that time wouldn’t have been easy. Then Kearsley had to find a way to explain it to us as readers in a way that made sense. Some of this did slow down the story, which is why it doesn’t quite hit the 5-star mark, but I still really appreciated the level of research that went into it to set the scene.
There is definitely an Outlander feel to the story, and that’s what drew me into the blurb in the first place. It’s highly recommended.
Stars: 4 out of 5.
What did you think of The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley? Is this a novel for you or a friend? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley is now available to purchase on Amazon.