The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans
Simon and Schuster, 2012. ISBN 9780731815081
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Historical fantasy. For lovers of history and fantasy, Posie Graeme-Evans takes the reader to an isolated island off the Scottish coast. Freya Dane is a young archaeologist who has been left an island and house by the father that she barely knows. When she arrives she discovers that her father has unearthed many treasures from the past, Pagan, Christian and Viking. But it is when she meets Daniel Boyle from the mainland that she begins to have visions of the past - a past when a young Pict girl Signy is left on the island with Bear, a Viking boy after a raid, and brought up by the Christian community there. The tale of Signy's life interweaves with the modern story of Freya as she uncovers what has happened in the past.
Although rather slow in parts, the historical aspects of this story are fascinating as Evans explores the religious beliefs of the Pagans, Christians and Vikings and their rituals and their struggle for dominance. The island of Findmar had been settled by monks and nuns and their rigid set of beliefs is contrasted with Signy's ceremonies in the standing stones on the island. Signy is torn between what she has been brought up to believe and what the Christians tell her and after tragedy strikes, decides to become a nun. But things do not go well. Told in alternating chapters, Freya's actions gradually uncover the secrets of the past after she and Daniel both have vivid visions that show what has happened to the young girl and her Viking love.
Descriptions of violence and mayhem, narrow minded monks, Viking boats and a heart-wrenching love story between Bear and Signy and a slow burning modern day romance will keep the reader absorbed in the story.