The complicated background to the disputes between Scotland’s religious factions is the setting for this gripping and well told story of hatred and lack of forgiveness observed by one who knows what it is to suffer these emotions. William de Lacey of The Highwayman’s Footsteps, and his friend Bess discover a body and an injured boy after seeking refuge from the Redcoats who are pursuing them, and while trying to find the boy’s home become involved in a feud going back generations, fuelled by a grandmother’s undying hatred. The family eke out a living from the poor land of Galloway in the late eighteenth century, supplemented by smuggling, and threatened by Douglas Murdoch and his clan. Will and Bess become embroiled in this feud, Bess even more so by the mutual attraction between her and Calum.
This sequel stands alone well enough and the author has given herself sufficient length to explore the nature of the hatred which has been fuelled by religion and its various sects. Will can see this clearly particularly in the light of his own experiences, but Bess seems to fall under the grandmother’s spell and only at the end does she realise that her future does not lie within such a family. The actual historical background is explained in an author’s note, but it would have been better incorporated into the text somehow as it is confusing for the reader. This does not detract however, from what is a very good and thoughtful novel for 14 and upward.