While this book will undoubtedly be popular with fans of historical fiction, the language borders on the flowery and clichéd at times. Phrases like “her parasol-a-twirl” and “matters which Highlanders drink in with their mothers’ milk” might make some readers feel like gnawing off their own elbows. What Magnusson does well, however, is create a strong sense of place, really tapping into locations such as Loch Katrine and Doon Hill near Aberfoyle, where the mysterious real-life story of Robert Kirke is believed to have taken place.
The Glaswegian Isabel Aird, haunted by a succession of miscarriages, joins her husband in the Highlands, where he has a new job as physician to the workers on an engineering project. Pregnant once more, she encounters the enigmatic Robert Kirke, who claims to have returned from a 150-year sojourn in the land of faery. Their meeting triggers a tragic sequence of events in which realism and fairy tale prove uneasy partners.