Book Review: The Shadowy Horses By Susanna Kearsley

the shadowy horses book review

The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.

Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.

Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.

  • Genre: History/Mystery 
  • Published: 1999
  • Pages: 432
  • Goodreads rating: 3.92 stars
That Delirious Man whose fancy fuses old and new, and flashes false and true, and mingles all.
— The First Horse, Tennyson, In Memoriam XVI
the shadowy horses

First Initial Thoughts

What I enjoyed about the book was the way Susanna described the Archaeology dig. She did an amazing job researching that part. It is not all adventure like Indiana Jones, unfortunately. It is a grueling job, very hard work out in the field and quite repetitive. I liked that she kept it realistic. 

I admired Verity. She was very devoted to her work. She is very loyal to her co-workers and boss. I also liked the part that she was an Archaeologist. I haven't read too many books with female Archaeologists! As a former Archaeology student, it warmed my heart. If you are not too familiar with Scotland, the people there are very superstitious. They tend to believe in the supernatural and the unknown. At the beginning of the story, Verity struggles with wanting to stay and understanding the unknown. 

Verity's boss, Peter Quinnell, I really admired. He was very devoted to the dig. He reminded me of some of my professors during my Archaeology days. He knew the troubles that were in front of him but kept on going. When he was granted to continue the dig later on in the story, you could tell he was proud of his work and his life. But I could still tell a sense of sadness in him which was disheartening.

The other two main men in the story, David and Adrian were two scots after the heart of Verity. Verity over Adrian from the past finds comfort in David. I appreciated that it was a slow burn between David and Verity. No love at first sight kind of thing.


Ugh, I absolutely loved the setting. If you haven't read the about me page then you probably don't know that I absolutely adore Scotland. It stole my heart when I visited last December. I want to go back soon and this book helped make me feel somewhat closer again. Susanna did an amazing job recreating Scotland, the weather, food, everything. It was just lovely to be able to reminisce my days in Scotland. Also, she does use real places in the book! 

Final Thoughts

I was slightly underwhelmed with this book. Hense my 3 1/2 star rating. It was good but could have been better. Usually, I don't mind having a little bit of paranormal in a story but the way it was written, just didn't win me over. Peter and the other members of the dig used a psychic to help with finding out more about the dig. While I don't mind people trying new things, I just couldn't get into it. 

Also, the story just kind of dragged on. I also wanted to see more time out in the field and elaborate more on that process. I think the author spent too much time on the ghost storyline. 

One good note, I did learn a little more about Scotland and their brief Roman occupation. I remember on one of the Scotland tours I took in the Highlands the tour guide was talking about the Roman occupation and that it was very brief. For reasons, I have forgotten what the tour guide guy said but I remember it having to do something with the natural resources. 


The ending was good. Nothing was unresolved but I was kind of glad it was over. It felt like the book was slightly too long. 

I just was hoping for more out of this book. Maybe because I am attached to Scotland and Archaeology and it just didn't live up to my potential. But it just didn't wow me over, unfortunately. 


Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Have you read any other books from Susanna? Comment below! 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. Until next time! 

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You can purchase the book here if it is something you think you would enjoy!: