The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch’s heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David’s calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island’s land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.
While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate’s assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island–and its traditional way of life–hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor…
Michael Phillips is well known in Christian publishing, but The Inheritance is a first for me. It’s the start of a new series set in the most northerly part of the United Kingdom, Secrets of the Shetlands. I love reading fiction set in my birth country, so I jumped at the opportunity to read and review this novel. Since Phillips’ brief biography said he and his wife spend time in Scotland every year, I was hoping for good things.
Sadly, the first chapter almost put me off reading the rest of the book. It’s set in 1924 and is about the young son of a gamekeeper and a dying bird. In the next couple of short chapters we are introduced to the laird and his pondering over the directions of his sons’ lives. A young American woman also passes through the opening pages. Thankfully, it isn’t long before the narrative jumps to Washington, D.C. in 2005, where readers are introduced to Loni Ford and her mysterious background.
These opening chapters, however, are representative of the book as a whole. There’s a lot of introspection (navel gazing) and flashbacks to past events. The plot is slow to move, and I felt that a scene involving the rescue of a fishing boat lacked drama and tension. There’s a backstory about some strange religious group dividing the island’s population during the 1980s. The American oil tycoon story reminded me of the cult Scottish movie classic, Local Hero.
The Shetlanders’ speech is written entirely in a Scots dialect and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. Despite having lived in Scotland for a number of years and also having Scottish family, I had to work to understand what was being said. I can’t imagine what it might be like for a reader lacking any familiarity with a Scottish accent. I think it was also made worse by an author’s note explaining that the written dialect isn’t a true representation of Shetland speech but is, instead more representative of mainland Scots. If that was the case, why use it?
With all these issues, why did I keep reading? To be honest, I might’ve given up if I wasn’t reviewing it. But I had questions for which I wanted answers. How did Loni’s parents meet? Would she stay with the egotistical boyfriend? What would happen to the estate’s finances and the people who rely on them? Would David learn of his cousin’s scheming? The Inheritance ends abruptly, however, at the moment David and Loni meet. Hopefully, The Cottage will have those answers for me when it comes out later in the year.
Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of The Inheritance, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity blog tour
Have you read The Inheritance? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 05 April 2016
Page Count: 432