All families have secrets.
But some have more secrets than others.
Jim is a brilliant raconteur whose stories get taller with each glass of whisky. His daughter Sam thinks it's time she found out the truth about her dad.
On holiday in Orkney, Sam spies on Jim as he travels across the island. What has he hidden in the abandoned watchtower? Who is he meeting in the stone circle at dusk? And why is he suddenly obsessed with Norse myths?
As Sam is drawn into Jim's shadowy world, she begins to realise that pursuing the truth is not as simple as it seems...
Set against the harsh beauty of the remote Scottish islands of Orkney, inspired by the author's own childhood, this is a gripping first novel from an astonishing new talent.
A sense of place – writing about Orkney
This summer was the first time I had been to Orkney in thirty years. I wrote Orkney Twilight using memories I had of visiting the islands for holidays when I was a child. I started writing the novel when I was living in the States with young kids; a research trip across the Atlantic wasn’t practical. The novel is set in 1984, which is closer in time to my childhood summer holidays than it is to the present day, so I didn’t want to overlay my memories with new perceptions.
More than geographical accuracy, I wanted to capture the sense of magic that Orkney held for me back then. The enchantment of the ancient monuments, sandy bays, curlews and green hills. Sam, the narrator of Orkney Twilight, likes to think she is a Viking seeress, which is the kind of thing I liked to think when I was ten.
Orkney is a place where the deep layers of time are both visible and mysterious. Neolithic stone rings and tombs are covered with Norse runes. Archaeologists unearth new sites – like the breathtaking Ness of Brodgar – brush away the mud, piece the pottery shards together, but they can never be entirely sure what the artefacts signify. A leaving feast? A religious ceremony?
Writing about Orkney was, for me, something of an archaeological dig. Unearthing fragments of my long-gone holidays, examining them, twisting them around to help create a story. Perhaps not surprisingly then, Orkney Twilight is a mystery that revolves around memories, history and myth. What do Sam’s strange recollections reveal about the secret life of her father, an undercover cop? As Sam discovers, there is danger in digging up the past, disturbing the dead.
When I returned to Orkney this summer, I wondered whether I had got some details wrong. I had – although not as many as I feared. I was also worried that Orkney would be different. Some things have changed, mainly for the better – the thriving islands’ community makes sure of that. But the essence of the place has stayed the same. Like Sam, I was surprised to find how easily I could navigate without a map. The contours of the landscape matched those imprinted on my brain. And, despite the passing of my years, I still found magic in the islands. Orkney has a timeless enchantment, the enduring spirit of this special place.
I give it - 4/5
My review - This was such an interesting, gripping story! It is fantastic for a debut novel! It is really hard to believe this is Clare's first novel as the writing just flowed in this book.
I really enjoyed every second of this book. It did take me a few pages to get into it but once I did I didn't put it down once.
The character of Jim and him being an undercover cop was very intriguing. As was his daughter Sam. There relationship is strained because of his job. This story explores the resentment and anger and a bit humour of their relationship.
I really enjoyed the 80s feel to this book as I thought it worked really well with the whole story. I loved the crime bits and overall this was just a really brilliant story from a debut author, and I think everyone would enjoy this fantastic story!
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