Review: Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills 01) by Kathleen Morgan

Format: Kindle e-book
Genre: pseudo-historical romance

Target audience: hard to say; officially Christian fiction fans, YA and adults but I would rather say nobody who likes intelligent books. 

Why I read it?

Recently I’ve bought myself a new stainless steel coffee  press. A shiny and expensive one. I am very happy with my new acquisition. However, it means  I am broke till the end of the month  – if I get any new books they will be freebies or borrowed or (very unlikely) won. This one is the first of freebies I found on and ‘bought’ out of sheer desperation. Was it a success or a failure? Allegedly you can find good freebie books around, right? RIGHT?

Harsh Scottish highlands, 1565.
Anne MacGregor is a born healer but some people call her a witch and avoid her at all cost (until they or somebody from their family gets ill of course).  Niall Campbell, a seasoned warrior and the next clan leader, is mourning his young wife who has died during childbirth. Their clans are enemies – they are stealing the cattle from each other, killing people and destroying their chances of survival. Normal borderlands’ cheer. Finally Anne’s father thinks it cannot continue this way. In order to prevent the worst Anne is handfasted to Niall (handfasting is an ancient Celtic ceremony, a kind of temporary or permanent betrothal or wedding) although she despises him and he claims he is nor ready for another wife. Well, who cares. The welfare of your people, stupid!
Meanwhile there is a traitor in the Campbell clan who would gladly see Naill and Anne dead. While Niall wrestles with his suspicions about a hidden enemy in his clan, Anne’s actions do not go unnoticed. Will they start cooperating in time to prevent the murderer? Maybe but only after they bore the readers to death.
What I liked:
I didn’t pay for this one. It was a breeze to read (or rather to leaf through – it was a DNF) so I didn’t lose much time either. Oh and the cover is nice – I like Scotland’s landscapes!
What I didn’t like:
Oh dear. Oh dear. Quick, help me. Where is my devil outfit? Here it is – a bit dusty and worse for wear but still fully functional. Let me start then without further delay.
The plot: it was WEAK, childish, predictable and so utterly cliché that I hardly suppressed laughter. Or rather a burst of evil laugh. Nothing, and I mean LITTERALY nothing, was able to surprise me in this book. You can safely assume the main heroine will come unscathed from every predicament, you can bet the male lead will vanquish his enemies sooner or later and you will be perfectly right every single time. ALWAYS. But…where’s the tension? Where’s the interest and the excitement? Where are those scenes which urge you to read on even though you should have stopped long time ago? The answer, I regret to inform you, is : there are no such things. Still, in the Amazon product description you can find such phrase as ‘thrilling suspense’. Suspense, my horns. Perhaps suspenders but still only those boring ones your granddad would wear every day and never wash. Any claim that this book is ‘thrilling’ is nothing but a shameless lie, one of many buzzwords used by marketing specialist to sell you a crappy product. ‘Sleep-inducing’ would be far more appropriate.
The interaction between Anne and Niall consist of one constant love quarrel which drags and drags and gets on your nerves and drags further on. They  act and think like two moody teenagers but they kiss, sure they do, kissing is one of their fav pastimes as Niall is a good kisser and our prissy, chaste Anne loves that despite herself.The result is a romance based on mutual lust which nevertheless is supposed to remain superficially chaste: a weird combination which I presume doesn’t satisfy either any sensible Christian fiction fan or any ‘normal’ romance reader (and I am neither so…). It remains me of one of these ‘recycled’ virgins – people who have their marriage officially annulled by the Catholic church no matter whether it has been consumed or not. Quite a leap of faith, don’t you think?
Of course there is a third man to their party, Iain Campbell, who fancies Anne instantly and cannot get over it (rolleyes) no matter what. I can’t remember how many times in my reviews I’ve emphasized the fact that I hate love triangles with a virulent, sulphur-scented hatred. This one was not only bad, it was also completely unbelievable and tepid to the extreme.
 The identity of the main baddie became transparent very early on; still the author wants me to believe poor Niall, a braw clever Scotsman, has been as lost as a child in the mist (pun intended) till the very end and his brilliant fiancée fared just slightly better (but half of the time she is too sulky to reveal the truth). I really regretted she survived her burning – she deserved it more than anyone. In fact Anne is a perfect example of a ‘too-stupid-to-live’ female lead. How many times does it take to be almost killed before you learn, my lady?
The novel is written in a very juvenile style. I would compare it to a work of not especially bright high school sophomore who is dreaming of being an author of one of these steamy erotica novels (rrrrawr!) but she is unable to pluck up her courage to write one really good sex scene because she is a Christian (miserere mei Deus!) and she wants to keep it DECENT. As a result she is like FOREVER running in circles and never getting to the point. Adorable – a perfect torture device.
Finally…it is supposed to be a historical novel. Ehem…the author makes her characters speak in  fictitious Scottish  (“verra well, my wee bonny lass, verra well! Just give me a bairn every year and I’ll be verra happy!” “Mayhap, just mayhap m’lord!) but she forgets to change their way of thinking and sometimes their vocabulary as well. I laughed a lot when, after a skirmish, Anne is examining her beloved Niall (he was wounded) and announces: “the arrow didn’t damage any vital organs…” Vital organs? ER or Doctor House anybody? But wait, it is supposed to be 16th century Scotland, right? 

Houston, we have a problem…
Final verdict:
I suppose this book was born as a steamy romance and then it’s undergone some bowdlerization and was masqueraded as a Christian fiction novel in order to suit the market needs. Woohoo – the idea straight from hell!  Now seriously: it was bad – very bad indeed. A perfect example of a book that shouldn’t have existed. In order to detoxicate my system I found a nice scientific paper: Numerical solution of seven-order Sawada-Kotara equations by homotopy perturbation method by M. Ghasemi , A. Azizi and M. Fardi. Solitary-wave solution…hmmm. Now I will be all right.
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