Years ago, I read Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine and loved it to pieces. Earlier this month, I happened to find that we had two more of the author’s novels at home, and Kingdom of Shadows piqued my interest at once. I was all the more excited because I had loved the other book of hers I had read.
In a childless and unhappy marriage, Clare Royland is rich and beautiful – but lonely. And fueling her feelings of isolation is a strange, growing fascination with an ancestress from the distant past. Troubled by haunting inexplicable dreams that terrify – but also powerfully compel – her, Clare is forced to look back through the centuries for answers.
In 1306, Scotland is at war. Isobel, Countess of Buchan, faces fear and the prospect of untimely death as the fighting surrounds her. But passionate and headstrong, her trials escalate when she is persecuted for her part in crowning Robert the Bruce, her lover.
Duncairn, Isobel’s home and Clare’s beloved heritage, becomes a battleground for passions that span the centuries. As husband Paul’s recklessness threatens their security, Clare must fight to save Duncairn, and to save herself from the powers of Isobel…
That’s the blurb as shown on Amazon.com, but it is different from what there was written on the back of the older edition we had at home. I was expecting a story about reincarnation, as in Lady of Hay. Yet, Kingdom of Shadows turned out to be about possession instead of reincarnation and it made me extremely uncomfortable.
I read the book until its end because I cared for the main character, Clare, but I’m not planning on ever rereading the book or even recommending it. The ancestor character annoyed me and I couldn’t bring myself to care for her at any point. I just wanted her to leave Clare alone.
Not only was the possession story creepy but many things Clare faces, with her husband and even her family, are disturbing as well, and deal with a lot of abuse of different kinds, which I didn’t expect either when I chose to read the novel.
The book dragged on very boringly on several occasions, and took forever to pick up on certain parts of the storyline. I also didn’t like how the ending was rushed especially after more than 750 pages. With this length, Erskine could have added 20-40 more pages and ended things properly.
I was relieved that things seemed to have gone better at last, but the final page with the “Postscript” after the last chapter left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, with all the creepiness crawling back.