Title: The Mermaid and the Bear
Author: Ailish Sinclair
Publisher: GWL Publishing
Genre: History, Romance
Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)
About: Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.
She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.
She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.
Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…
Until the past catches up with her.
Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.
Review: Wow… just wow.
I got this book last Saturday after seeing a simple tweet about it on Twitter and I could not put it down.
Right from the very beginning, it gripped me.
Now that might be because I love all things history – but this book was absolutely perfect for me!
I mean for starters the main character is called Isobell (I mean that’s basically my name anyway so what’s not to love). But it also talks about castles, faeries, mermaids and has a great romance story involved in the storyline – so of course, I had to read this.
Right from the very beginning you get thrown into the story and are completely involved in Isobell’s life.
The plot was well developed and follows Isobell’s story as she sails to Scotland to escape a wicked man.
I loved how Sinclair also wrote the Scottish characters with the correct dialect. At first, I really had to wrap my head around it, but it actually added so much authenticity and realism to the book as well.
Once I got used to the language, this book was a fairly easy read.
I mean I started it at like half 8 in the morning and I had finished it by about 4 o’clock. And no I wasn’t reading slow, I even managed to go out and about and do some shopping in the morning as well.
It annoyed my sister because she wanted to talk to me that day and I told her that I could no longer socialize until I had finished this book haha!
There are two parts to this book and I do have to say that it took a bit of a dramatic change when I was halfway through.
I hated the character of Agnes by the end, not because she was badly written, but just because she was such a trouble maker! Honestly, I’m so glad that I have no one like that in my life.
Although (be prepared for a slight spoiler here) why Isobell had to believe her when she accused her husband of having a mistress is beyond me. Like she already knew that Agnes was a gossip and a liar. But I guess Isobell is young, so I can kind of forgive her for being so gullible.
I had no idea that the book would take such a dramatic turn at the end. I got about halfway and was like oh this is perfect, they’re finally together and it’s all happy… but then I was just like, wait I’m only halfway through the book.
I knew something big was going to happen.
The twist I wasn’t expecting. Well I wasn’t expecting it to be so brutal and graphic and yes, I will be honest, it did make me shed a tear.
So be prepared.
This book is about witchery and that is something which is hinted at and talked about even in the very beginning, so I just knew that someone was going to be accused at some point.
But I did not expect how violent it would become.
I guess that was what it would have been like though, to be accused of something that you did not do and have no way to prove otherwise.
I have always been fascinated by witchcraft trials, to be honest, but I loved seeing how such a stupid lie can have such a huge impact on more than one person.
I didn’t want to put the book down, but I was too afraid to find out how the book would end though. I was worried that Isobell would die, that other people would die, that wee Thomas would die. Basically, I was worried that everyone would die! And I had become quite attached to all of them.
The characters were so lifelike and the description and thoughtfulness that had been put into this book is probably what has made me love it.
The writing is so beautiful and the scenes are so detailed that I truly felt like I had fallen into the book and was actually seeing it play out in front of me with ease.
And lastly, the final point I shall make (which is a bit of an add on, but I feel like I have to say it), is that I love the relationship between Isobell and the Laird. I mean even I found myself falling in love with him!
I really have to praise Sinclair as well for the delicate and yet intimate way she wrote the scenes between them. I’m not a fan of scenes getting too descriptive between couples, but I thought that every bit (and every detail) had been thought out perfectly!
I cannot wait to read another book like this, and I just hope that a lot more people can experience this book and enjoy it as much I did!
It definitely is a worthwhile read, and honestly, I’ll read it again tomorrow and the day after quite happily – it’s that good!