Sunday, August 19, 2018

Review: Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes.

Libby Snow has always felt the pull of Ullanessm a lush Scottish island enshrouded in myth and deeply important to her family. Her great-great-grandmother Ellen was obsessed with the strange legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the nearly lifeless body of her husband—and who inspired countless epic poems and the island’s name.

Central to the mystery is an ornate chalice and Libby, an archaeologist, finally has permission to excavate the site where Ulla is believed to have lived. But what Libby finds in the ancient dunes is a body from the Victorian era, clearly murdered…and potentially connected to Ellen.

What unfolds is an epic story that spans centuries, with Libby mining Ellen and Ulla’s stories for clues about the body, and in doing so, discovering the darker threads that bind all three women together across history.

Infused with Sarah Maine’s signature “meticulous research and descriptive passages of lush, beautiful landscapes” (Publishers Weekly), Women of the Dunes is a beautifully told and compelling mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 24th 2018
by Atria Books

I loved the author’s debut The House Between Tides, it was a Gothic mysterious story that left its mark as a unique and well written debut. That fact adds pressure to any subsequent release, with Women of the Dune I was not disappointed.

Women of the Dunes is an entertaining, tale set on the coast of Scotland with 3 distinct time periods involved. Having read my fair share of dual time period stories that sometimes overlap with a third one, this book’s plot stayed within those 3 periods and it worked. Never did I feel overwhelmed with the cast of characters.

Whether it was the 9th century Ulla, Ellen from the 1800’s or current day Libby each had great settings that put me there. The authors research was clearly spot on, the pace wasn’t rushed but steady, keeping my attention and wondering where the author was heading.

Women of the Dunes is a mysterious story with many layers, there is murder, betrayal, history and of course some romance. All the things that make for a captivating and entertaining read. 

My thanks to Atria Books for an advanced copy, via Netgalley.

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