#Book Review: Echoes of Home: A Ghost Story

Echoes of Home is an intriguing Ghost Story about an abandoned cottage and the secrets it keeps. Les Wills has just finished burying his mother when his brother Jonathan arrives, late, and bearing the gift of a new start for Les at Elphin Cottage, a home in the Scottish Highlands. When Les finally travels to this out of the way place, strange things begin to happen, and he sets out to solve their mystery. 

This captivating story is set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, although Les, the main character, doesn’t arrive there until about 20% into the book. There were times when I felt the pace was slow in the first half of the book, but after reading the story in its entirety, everything fit together and made perfect sense, and the pace itself was just right.

I am not a fan of horror and do not review it, and I would categorize this as paranormal, but not horror. It is also historical fiction, as the Great Famine of 1845- 1849 and the Highland Famine of 1846 – 1856 were very real and greatly impacted this story. Another theme in this book is solitude, and the story drips with palpable solitude, including Les’s solitude, ghostly solitude, and that of Clais Cottage and its surroundings. This is very well done by M.L. Rayner. The impact that class differences had on the poor leaves no doubt as to the evil that comes from thinking oneself above others. The character Michael Coull serves as an ending to some of the solitude in this story. He is also a connection to the land and the teller of its stories.

As I am descended from Appalachian settlers arriving in America from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, this type of tale reminds me of mountain stories I’ve heard, told in almost musical fashion, of ghosts or mythical creatures who haunt the Smokies. I can definitely feel a musical rhythm in this Scottish tale. 

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story as well as fans of historical fiction and Scottish history. I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. 

I have rated this 4.5 stars, rounded up to five on sites that do not have a half-star option. 


M.L. Rayner

Born and bred in the county of Staffordshire. Matt is a keen reader of classical, horror and fantasy literature and enjoys writing in the style of traditional ghost stories. During his working life, Matt joined the ambulance service in 2009, transporting critically ill patients all over the UK. After writing his first novel, Matt was welcomed into the family of Question Mark Press publishing and now dedicates his time on future releases. His hobbies include genealogy and hiking, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, his children, and his family.








The Skylark’s Secret

This is one of 12 reviews I did last quarter for Historical Novels Review Magazine/Historical Novel Society website. I will be doing a feature on all of them this week.

In the late 1970s, Lexie Gordon returns home with her daughter, Daisy, to Aultbea, a small fishing village on Loch Ewe in the Scottish Highlands. She has come to live in her family’s cottage after a vocal cord injury ended her singing career in London. Embarrassed at first that the town gossipers might judge her for her lost career or single parenthood, Lexie slowly begins to reconnect with her town. She also begins to discover, through the townspeople, secrets of her family’s past.

In 1939, Flora Gordon lives with her family in the Keeper’s Cottage in Aultbea. Her father is the gamekeeper for the Laird, a surly and imposing man. Aultbea is suddenly tapped as the location for the Royal Navy’s Arctic convoys and is turned into a military base virtually overnight. At the same time, Flora finds herself falling in love with the Laird’s son.

Valpy paints a gorgeous word picture of the beauty of Scotland, both before and after the war, as well as the scars left behind in Loch Ewe when the war is over. I also enjoyed the description of everyday life in a fishing village and how that is suddenly changed by a military presence. The characters are well developed. The love between Flora and her family, and the love Lexie has for her daughter, is palpable. I was often furious at the cruel tactics of the well-crafted and despicable Laird. The town comes alive through its people and their connection to each other. This is a well written novel involving WWII fiction, Scottish history, and family dynamics with a touch of romance. 

I received a free copy from Amazon Publishing UK and Historical Novels Review Magazine via Netgalley. This appeared on The Historical Novel Society Website/Historical Novels Review Magazine.

This amazing book is available free to Kindle Unlimited members on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Skylarks-Secret-Fiona-Valpy-ebook/dp/B07X3NMHXJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1XI4CM0CGKKUQ&dchild=1&keywords=the+skylark%27s+secret&qid=1604320819&sprefix=the+skylark%27s+%2Caps%2C187&sr=8-1

Link to the author’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Fiona-Valpy/e/B005U0HXIC?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Link to my reviews on the Historical Novel Society website: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/?s=bonnie+demoss