A House Divided

Written by Margaret Skea
Review by Anna Belfrage

When this novel opens, Kate Munro has been living undercover for six years. Her husband is in France, fighting for Henri IV – well, Kate hopes he is; she hasn’t heard from him in years, and in this time and age death can surprise a man at any moment. Other than worrying for her husband, Kate has other concerns: living under the assumed name of Grant she supports her children as a healer, always nervous someone will recognise her.

Over the first few chapters, the reason for this stunted life is presented. The Munro family is a victim of the ongoing bloody feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, and in a desperate attempt to save his family from certain death, Adam Munro set his home on fire, staged their deaths and fled abroad, leaving his wife and children behind.

Set in sixteenth century Scotland, this is a vivid description of life back then, complete with political intrigue, a rather sympathetic King James VI and a vindictive William Cunninghame. Historical detail is inserted with finesse, historical people pop in and out, adding a dash of colour to a complicated weave centred round Kate and the accusations of witchcraft that threaten her very life.

Ms Skea is an accomplished writer. Her descriptive writing brings her settings to vibrant life, complete with sounds, texture and smells. Her dialogue has pace and flow, with enough Scots added to give flavour, but not so much as to threaten comprehension. Add this to a compelling plot that has me turning pages well into the night, and you have a gripping, fantastic read!

E-edition reviewed