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The Stolen Hours by Karen Swan


I am utterly obsessed with the new historical series of books by Karen Swan. I recommend you read the first book in the series, The Last Summer, before you sit down to devour The Stolen Hours, the second in the installment of the Wild Isle series, set on the remote island of St Kilda, off the coast of Scotland.


This novel starts in the summer of 1929. As the oldest girl in the family, Mhairi MacKinnon has reached a time in her life when she needs a husband. Her family can’t afford to support all the mouths they have, but living in such a remote and small place, her options for finding a husband are limited. She reluctantly agrees to travel to another island to meet a young man who may be suitable. Her neighbour, Donald, chaperones Mhairi on this trip, so they set off to the outside world.


But things don’t go to plan when Mhairi returns engaged, but she has lost her heart to another man, someone completely unsuitable, someone she can never have. She waits for the months to spring when she will have to wed the man she has only met once, distraught that she will never see the man she really loves ever again.


But then word comes that St Kilda will be evacuated, and all the villagers resettled to the mainland, so further change is in the air for Mhairi and all her friends. But when a dead body is found left behind at St Kilda, Mhairi and her friends find themselves under the shadow of suspicion.


There is everything to love about these novels, that are based on an intriguing real-life event in history – the evacuation of an entire Scottish island. They are atmospheric and dramatically page-turning, and the characters simply steal your heart. I loved The Stolen Hours so much, I raced through it at great speed, and then reread the last section of the book, savouring all about it. Simply superb, this is epic storytelling at its best!


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Pan Macmillan Publishers

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