There Is A Place

Written by Cathy M. Donnelly
Review by Liz Bryan

Set in Scotland in the aftermath of Flodden Field, There Is A Place is an interesting novel that is slightly different to the usual run-of-the-mill post-battle narratives. Sixteen-year-old Michael Craig can see and communicate with the dead. And there are a lot who are dead; over 10,000 men were killed on that day in September 1513. Among them were King James IV of Scotland and Michael’s own brother.

This is a haunting story of a man trying to come to terms with his gift, and the need for revenge for the carnage and slaughter. He promises one of the dead, Lord Robert Erskine, that he will take a message to his son, John Erskine, at the Erskine home, Alloa Tower. He becomes friends with the family, but after a dreadful tragedy Michael leaves to find peace at the Priory of Inchmahome. His decision to pursue religion takes him on pilgrimage, where he confronts the guilt that is consuming him. Renewing his friendship with the Erskines, he becomes their spiritual advisor and earns for himself the respect of the Knights Templar and Mary Queen of Scots. When he meets a kindred spirit, Alice, he is faced with yet more difficulties that must be endured.

The story is well written and enjoyable, but I did keep thinking about how Michael got away with not being accused of devil worship or witchcraft, for this was a period in Scottish history where witches were burnt by the dozen for not following the orthodox religion. However, this is fiction after all, and in fiction belief can be suspended for the sake of a good story.

My only other nit-pick was the glare of white paper – cream is so much more restful on the eye – and the wide line spacing. I sincerely recommend a reformat and republication, because this is a good story worthy of good ‘packaging’.