The Story Keeper

Written by Anna Mazzola
Review by Edward James

The real hero, or maybe villain, of this book is the island of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. Remote, misty, stormy, rugged, it looms over the story like a malevolent spirit. By 1857, when the heroine, Audrey Hart, arrives in Skye, the ‘clearances’ have taken away most of the population. An aging remnant clings on, eking a miserable living from the thin soil.

Audrey is fleeing her own problems in London and answers an advertisement to assist an old lady who is collecting the folk tales of Skye before the native Gaelic-speaking culture disappears. She soon discovers that local girls are disappearing, sometimes to be found months later either dead or so traumatised that they are incoherent. The locals blame the sluagh, an airborne band of evil spirits.

It seems everybody on Skye has dark secrets, even the minister at the kirk, and nobody wants to help Audrey probe the disappearances. Only when she is herself abducted and manages to escape can she identify the villain.

An atmospheric, suspenseful mystery which makes a compelling read.