Reviews of Cauldstane

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CAULDSTANE was published in 2014.

A review from Lyn at I PREFER READING book blog:

CAULDSTANE is a terrific story, a Gothic mystery set in a haunted & cursed Scottish castle. As I read, I was reminded of many of my favourite books, from the romances of Victoria Holt to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca with echoes of Shakespeare and Elizabeth Gaskell as well.

All the characters are beautifully drawn, from Alec, whose life has been burdened by guilt, to Sholto, the aging adventurer who is troubled by the consequences of the reckless behaviour of his past & worried about the future of his sons & the estate.

Jenny has secrets of her own which are only gradually revealed but she's an undaunted heroine whose love for Alec will give her the strength to fight the evil force threatening the family & her own happiness.

I hope I haven't made the story sound too gloomy as there's a lot of humour as well. Sholto's glee in describing his near-death experiences in the Arctic gives us a glimpse of the dashing adventurer he'd once been until ill-health & regrets about his behaviour to Liz consumed him.

As always, Linda Gillard describes the natural world beautifully. The castle is a character in its own right, as evocative as Manderley, and a perfect setting for this Gothic tale of love & the struggle between good and evil.

A mid-16thC tomb effigy
showing a claymore sword.

Author Kathleen Jones reviews at Eclectic Electric:

Since I discovered HOUSE OF SILENCE, I've been reading Linda Gillard's award-winning novels and wondering why on earth her publisher ever allowed her to go 'Indie'. She's providing exactly what readers seem to want - a rattling good story, interesting characters, romance, real dilemmas and traumas we can all empathise with, and an original mix of genre elements. If you like this recipe, you're never going to get bored. Not all Linda's books are to my taste, but the writing is always impeccable.

I've followed the genesis of CAULDSTANE via Linda's Facebook author page and been intrigued by the little snippets she's shared. I also admired her determination to press on with the book through the long recovery process of a serious brush with cancer. Her honesty and integrity in sharing her journey gave me a greater respect for her skills as an author. This is someone who writes about traumatic human situations with personal knowledge. It's this compassion and empathy that inform the pages of this unusual novel. Think NORTHANGER ABBEY meets Daphne du Maurier and Bridget Jones with a bit of Downton Abbey thrown in. It's absolutely modern and gloriously gothic.

There's a remote and decrepit Scottish castle, (with a curse attached, of course), a wicked stepmother, a feisty but emotionally vulnerable heroine, more handsome men than you can shake a sword at, and a very dangerous ghost. The main male character, Sholto, has made a career out of adventure, but is now getting old, short of money to keep the roof over his head intact, and wants to tell his sometimes scandalous life story. He has chosen J.J. Ryan to ghost-write it for him, picking the name from a Society of Authors list of recommendations without realising that J.J. is a woman. Jenny falls in love with Cauldstane and its occupants and is totally committed to the project, until ghost-writing of another kind comes between her and the family. To tell you more would be to spoil the plot, so I won't.

I'm not a great fan of the Gothic genre, though I did read quite a lot of it when I was younger, but this novel is a really good read and I was happy to suspend disbelief and just enjoy myself between the covers. It could only be improved by being read with a stiff malt whisky in one hand and a plate of Mrs Guthrie's ginger cakes on the side!

From a review on Hannah Fullmer's blog, READ THIS BOOK :

...CAULDSTANE has many elements which make it a great pleasure to read. For one, it has an unimpeachable atmosphere. Settings don't get much more gothic and delicious than a cursed old castle in the windblown, rain-soaked, Highlands of Scotland.

Secondly, the characters in this mystery/romance are imperfect, quirky, and eminently likeable. Author Linda Gillard has a talent for creating characters who are unique, in the way that real people are. Her characters in CAULDSTANE are no exception, from Jenny, who hides insecurities about her mental state, to Alec, who harbors guilt which drives him to bouts of frustration and depression. In developing her characters, Gillard shows an understanding of human psychology and motivation.

Third, Gillard knows how to write a good story; she has a lovely command of language, and writes a compelling plot.

Finally, CAULDSTANE is a novel with class. What I mean is that although it is not a cosy mystery story, instead dealing with real issues of emotional pain, loss, and healing, neither is it graphically sexual or violent. Gillard manages to convey a sense of decency and open-mindedness at the same time. Her books are the type that make me curious about the author as a person.

Linda Gillard pictured outside
Glasgow University

A review from author Joanne Phillips' blog:

As a writer myself, I can't help but analyse how another author is producing certain responses in me, the reader, when I'm reading a book, and Linda Gillard knows exactly when and how to crank it up until I'm either dissolving into tears or whooping with joy...

...There is a great cast of characters, all beautifully drawn, and the castle itself almost becomes a character in its own right, so richly is it described and imagined.

...There are laughs, tears and nail-biting tension, all set within a brilliant plot and against a beautiful and haunting setting. Prior to reading this, my favourite Linda Gillard novel was HOUSE OF SILENCE (which I also recommend) but now I'm not sure - I think it's a tie. CAULDSTANE is an instant classic, and I'm looking forward to the paperback version coming out so I have a good excuse to read it again.

A 5-star review on by Julia Sullivan (Cambridge, MA, United States):

Gorgeous, atmospheric novel in the grand tradition! As a lover of the romantic suspense genre in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier, I was just delighted by this book. Linda Gillard takes all the key elements - a beautiful but decaying family castle, a legacy of secrets, a tough but wounded romantic hero - and updates them perfectly for the twenty-first century with an independent, philosophical ghostwriter heroine. Just marvellous.