Thursday, 5 December 2013

Book Review: The Celtic Stone by Nick Hawkes

By Carol Preston



From the Blurb

Chris Norman's dreams of being a commercial pilot are shattered when he crashes his light plane in central Australia and is badly wounded. His life hangs in the balance, a balance that is swayed by the intervention of an Aboriginal man. He leaves Chris with a mysterious and incongruous legacy, a Celtic cross made of stone. Partly blinded and in deep grief at no longer being able to fly, Chris finds his way to the inhospitable islands off the West Coast of Scotland where he seeks to unravel the secrets of the Celtic Stone.

Review

The blurb of this book held so many promises of interest for me. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a mystery around a Celtic cross? Having recently visited Scottish Islands and been fascinated by the Celtic culture and history I was immediately drawn to this story which was to unfold on the Isle of Skye. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The historical research behind this book is impressive. It's woven into the story in such a way that as a reader I was so intrigued with the plot that I didn't realise how much I'd learned about the cultural mores and the complex laws and development of the crofting communities of Scotland, until I finished the story and reflected back on how much information I'd taken in.

Other aspects of this novel are equally engaging. There's the wonderful character of Morag, a blind Hebridean woman who has been shunned by many in her local community, and Ruan, the seven year old boy who has lost his family. Both of these are complex characters, needing love and care, but also fiercely independent. They bring the challenge of giving and receiving love, of dealing with rejection and alienation, of mutual respect and understanding in relationships, which make this story very moving and compelling.

I appreciated Nick's perspective in this story, which has a strong and likeable male character, who is dealing with grief, discovering his identity and struggling with relationship. I think this is presented in a sensitive and realistic manner, which shows a depth of understanding about human beings and relationships. The female character of Morag is equally deep and well developed, and a character with whom I could identify as a female reader. It's really balanced and believable, which makes the love story engaging and touching.

The conflict which Chris has with ruthless and dangerous figures in the political and crofting world of the islands provides a mystery and power struggle rooted in generations of unfolding traditions and schemes. This also makes this story a real page turner. I believe male and female readers alike, will find this novel exciting, engaging and satisfying.

Carol Preston

Carol is an author of historical novels set in rural Australia and based on her family ancestry in Australia. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website: www.carolpreston.com.au
or her Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston  or on Facebook www.facebook.com/writingtoreach

10 comments:

  1. Hmmm--a very compelling review, Carol, and one that has definitely made me want to read this book. I'll add it to my 'Mum's desired list of books for Christmas' list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or - Dad's desired list, too. It's the sort of novel my dad used to greatly enjoy.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of history combined with compelling story

      Delete
  2. That sounds a beauty Carol. Will have to investigate this one. I assume nothing in there a 12 year old boy couldn't read either?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Dale! It's a book that reminds me very much of the early (and very much superior to his latterday) novels of Michael Phillips - especially Legend of the Celtic Stone.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for that Annie. I will have to order it.

      Delete
  3. Thanks Carol - I saw it at conference and thought it looked interesting, I'll have to read it now ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Carol,
    This book has just arrived for me in the post, so it's lovely to read this review now before starting. I really like books in which you learn interesting things through stories. I'll encourage my kids to read it too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Carol, great review! The premise of this story is fascinating and it's good to hear about books that will appeal to both male and female readers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great review Carol - I have the book in my to-read pile so now I'm more motivated to move it up the pile (once I finish reading Henry's Run

    ReplyDelete