NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley (Audiobook)

Named of the Dragon
NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What grabbed my attention about this book was the Welsh setting and the Arthurian legend tie-ins. The writing was beautiful, especially the lovely descriptions of Angle, Pembrokeshire, however I never felt truly engaged in the story itself.

The main character, Lyn, is a literary agent spending Christmas holiday at Castle Farm in Wales with one of the authors she represents. Lyn’s baby boy died five years prior, and the grief still weighs heavily on her. In Angle, she meets a strange young woman with a baby boy of her own. The woman (Elen) believes her son is in danger, and soon Lyn has dreams of a mysterious woman in blue who tries to convince her to protect her own child. While all this is going on, Lyn has a slow-building romance with a curmudgeonly Welsh playwright named Gareth.

While I adore Arthurian legends and Celtic myths, their connection to the present-day story wasn’t that convincing. Lyn and Gareth were solid characters, but I thought the supporting cast fell flat. I was surprised by the outcome of the mystery (what/who was threatening Elen’s baby). While not my favorite book of Kearsley’s, I did enjoy experiencing a Christmas in Wales.

Audiobook • 9hrs, 48 mins • Katherine Kellgren, Narrator

Some of this book I listened to on audio from the library. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that Katherine Kellgren was a good fit for this story. The main character (Lyn) is in her twenties, and supposedly still struggling and unsure about her life since the death of her baby. Kellgren’s voice sounded too mature and too bold for that age and situation. (This happened with another of Kearsley’s audiobooks, though with a different narrator.) Also, there wasn’t a big difference in the characters’ voices (except for Gareth), so often times it was difficult to tell who was talking.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A DESPERATE FORTUNE by Susanna Kearsley

A Desperate Fortune
A DESPERATE FORTUNE by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Susanna Kearsley’s The Shadowy Horses and The Firebird are favorite books of mine, but unfortunately I had a hard time getting into this one. The story is told in dual time periods, which I love, but the modern couple Sara & Luc weren’t very compelling. I couldn’t feel any chemistry between them. Sara’s code-breaking ability was interesting though, which takes us to the historical portion of the story, the better of the two.

Mary Dundas is the daughter of a Jacobite exile, and Sara’s job is to crack Mary’s journal’s cipher from the 1700s. Mary gets wrapped up in some political intrigue that takes her on a road trip across Europe to Rome, which she records in her diary. Even this part of the book was slow-paced, and I was a wee bit let down by the outcome of the big “intrigue.” With a secret coded diary at the story’s center, I was expecting more. However, I loved Hugh MacPherson, the Highlander assigned as a bodyguard for Mary’s group. His backstory was tragic! Mary’s first impression of him made me giggle though. I could have spent all my time with Mary and Hugh in the past.

Clearly this book was meticulously researched. I think I was looking forward to the suspenseful Gothic feeling I’ve gotten from her previous books, but it wasn’t present in this one.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THE FIREBIRD by Susanna Kearsley



Series: Slains, #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: June 4, 2013
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Whoever dares to seek the Firebird may find the journey — and its ending — unexpected.

Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes sees images; glimpses of those who have owned it before. It’s never been a gift she wants, and she keeps it a secret from most people, including her practical boss Sebastian, one of London’s premier dealers in Russian art.

But when a woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, claiming it belonged to Russia’s first Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving — known as “The Firebird” — is worthless. But Nicola’s held it, and she knows the woman is telling the truth, and is in desperate need of the money the sale of the heirloom could bring.

Compelled to help, Nicola turns to a man she once left, and still loves: Rob McMorran, whose own psychic gifts are far greater than hers. With Rob to help her “see” the past, she follows a young girl named Anna from Scotland to Belgium and on into Russia.

There, in St. Petersburg — the once-glittering capital of Peter the Great’s Russia — Nicola and Rob unearth a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption…an old story that seems personal and small, perhaps, against the greater backdrops of the Jacobite and Russian courts, but one that will forever change their lives.


I love books that blend past events with the present, and THE FIREBIRD did so in a unique way. Nicola Marter is a secret psychometrist, someone who can divine information about people or events by touching an object. A new client comes to the gallery where she works with a small wooden carving she calls “The Firebird.” The woman believes the carving once belonged to Catherine the Great and was given as a gift to one of her ancestors. Nicola can sense by touching the bird that the woman’s story is possibly true. However, she can’t tell the client or her boss this without exposing her gift, so she sets out on a quest to find another way to prove the item’s authenticity.

Nicola is a smart, compassionate and determined character, but she’s also quite stubborn and unsure when it comes to using her gift of sight. She enlists the help of a lost love named Rob McMorran (aka little Robbie from The Shadowy Horses, all grown up), whose ability to see the past is much greater than hers. Rob is more open and honest about his gift, and he hopes he can teach Nicola to embrace hers as they go through this journey together.

So, essentially, Nicola and Rob were chasing “visions” of the client’s relative, Anna, in the past. They tracked her from place to place across Europe, and they were able to see important events from her life that eventually led her to Russia. Young Anna’s life was an exciting and dangerous adventure to read about, as she was caught up in the political intrigue of the time. I also enjoyed the dual romances in this book, one in the present and one in the past.

THE FIREBIRD was an engrossing, well-researched story that will delight fans of paranormal and historical fiction. While I did enjoy THE SHADOWDY HORSES more (it had an extra-special “something”), THE FIREBIRD was a wonderful and unique follow-up.

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THE SHADOWY HORSES by Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: October 2, 2012
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

The invincible Ninth Roman Legion marches from York to fight the northern tribes, and then vanishes from the pages of history.

Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.

Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he’s finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has “seen” a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.

Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.


This is the first book by Susanna Kearsley I’ve read, and it exceeded my expectations. I loved everything about this story. The author created the perfect Gothic atmosphere that pulled me in.

Verity Grey is an archaeologist hired for a dig in Eyemouth, a village on the east coast of Scotland. Her new boss has spent his life searching for clues about the fate of the Ninth Spanish Legion, a Roman legion who disappeared possibly in Britain during the early 2nd century. He’s believes the answers to the mystery are buried in a field on Rosehill Estate.

Verity is excited to be offered a job on the project, until she finds out the only proof comes from a young boy said to have second sight. Little Robbie has seen the ghost of a Roman Sentinel roaming the field, which of course, Verity is skeptical about at first. But it’s not long before she can sense his presence too.

The mysterious ghost isn’t the only man keeping her at Rosehill. She’s also rather taken by a handsome Scottish archaeologist and professor named David Fortune. Honestly, I’m not sure which one I fancied more, David or the ghost! They both gave me goosebumps.

THE SHADOWY HORSES was a captivating blend of ghost story, mystery and romance. The pacing was steady, not fast or slow, but I stayed hooked up to the last word. I enjoyed the entire cast of characters, each one with a distinct personality and something important to contribute to the plot. I also enjoyed the archaeological tidbits on how digs are organized and carried out.

THE SHADOWY HORSES is going on my favorites list for this year, and I’m so pleased to have discovered Susanna Kearsley’s amazing writing talent.

(I picture the ghostly Sentinel looking a bit like THIS. What do you think? *g*)

Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.