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Turn of the Tide Review by Laurie Gauger

Margaret Skea
Sanderling Books
Kelso, Scotland, TD5 7RH
Phone: 07807899545

Fans of Historical Fiction in general, and in Scotland's History specifically, will highly likely enjoy the book Turn of the Tide, by author Margaret Skea. The book is three hundred ninety-five pages long and divided into three parts. Included in the book are a map of Scotland, a list of the main characters with their significance, and a glossary of Scottish terms. All of those are immensely helpful to readers unfamiliar with the culture or history of sixteenth-century Scotland. This is a fictional account based on actual events. The author has skillfully woven real and created characters in the story, offering a glimpse of what may have taken place within one of these families.


 The setting is Scotland in the year 1586. The Cunninghames and the Montgomeries are amid a terribly bloody clan war that has lasted for one hundred fifty years. Within the first chapters, a group that represents the Cunninghamesconducts a gruesome massacre. This was an actual event, known as the Ayreshire Massacre. In Turn of the Tide, those representing the Cunninghames include a man known as Munro. He is bound to this clan by an old allegiance, but it is quickly clear that he has no affinity for William, son of the Earl of Glencairn, who leads the attack. Even as Munro conducts his orders to slay the group of Montgomeries, it is clear he finds the act wrong. 


Kate is Munro's wife and despises the violence between the clans, and her husband's involvement in them. The Ayreshire attack creates more than a little tension within the couples' marriage. Kate knows all too well the threat to her husband and her family. Still, they are stronger together and forge on to fight for what is right and good. However, their family will not remain untouched, and escaping the wrath of the Earl of Glencairn's son William, will not come without drastic measures. Their very existence is threatened.


It took me reading somewhere between six and seven chapters before I felt that I was tracking with the characters, as well as the plot. Those pages with the main characters and the glossary of terms were a fantastic addition. Once I was through the early part of the story, I was very taken with it. Author Margaret Skea is a marvelous storyteller, and the characters will come to life in your mind. I have a particular affection for the love story between Munro and Kate, and their relationship that endures under significant testing. The reader will be on pins and needles up through the ending, which took a surprising, yet satisfying end.


I would recommend this book for older teens and adults. There is no gratuitous violence, but there is the first instance of the attack, which younger readers may find too intense. There are also a few love scenes throughout the story, which are not graphic at all, and are between a married couple. They are suggestive though, and parents may not wish their younger children reading those bits. Overall, this is a wonderful blend of history and fiction and a great read.


-Product review by Laurie Gauger, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2019