Sight Unseen is the newest book from Sandra Ireland, which was published on Thursday by Polygon. I hope you had a great day celebrating Sandra! I was part of the online book launch organised by Kelly and Jacky at Honey and Stag Events which you can watch again here. It was great fun to take part in, both to hear Sandra being interviewed about the inspiration behind the book and to have the chance to ask her some questions of my own.
Sarah Sutherland is our main character and she, like many women, is juggling a career with family demands. In her case, she is the manager at a local supermarket, her daughter is off backpacking round the world and not always the easiest to get in touch with and her father is in his 90s, becoming frailer and in need of her attention more often. She combines all this with running witch tours round the town of Kilgour telling the story of Alie Goudie, a woman convicted of witchcraft and executed in the 17th century and a woman who used to live in the very house where Sarah now lives.
Sarah Sutherland is a storyteller and that’s very much what Sandra Ireland is too. The stories Sarah tells and the other stories incorporated within the book are stories you can imagine sitting listening to, stories which capture the imagination and pique your curiosity. Sandra’s novels weave in stories from myth, legend and folklore and are rooted in the oral tradition. More often than not there are echoes of the stories from the past in the contemporary part of the story and that’s certainly the case here as subjects as seemingly diverse as witch trials, an unusual medical condition and modern day slavery all feature.
I really liked the character of Sarah Sutherland and I’m delighted that this is the first in a planned series of books she’ll feature in. I’m particularly pleased because the book ends with some rather unexpected discoveries and more than one cliffhanger. I can’t wait to find out what happens next for Sarah as well as the other characters.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to be part of the tour and arranging a review copy. Sight Unseen is published by Birlinn Books and is available now. Please buy your copy from an independent bookshop if you are able. You can order directly from the Birlinn website here or if you prefer a Kindle copy you can buy one here.
From the back of the book
1648. Alie Gowdie marries Richard Webster during a turbulent time in Scotland’s history. Charles I is about to lose his head, and little does Alie know that she too will meet a grisly end within the year.
2019. Sarah Sutherland is struggling to cope with the demands of her day job, caring for her elderly father and keeping tabs on her backpacking daughter. She wanted to be an archaeologist, but now in her forties, she is divorced, alone, and there seems to be no respite, no glimmer of excitement on the horizon. However, she does have a special affinity with the Kilgour Witch, Alie Gowdie, who lived in Sarah’s cottage until her execution in 1648, and Sarah likes nothing better than to retreat into a world of sorcery, spells and religious fanaticism. Her stories delight tourists as she leads them along the cobbled streets of her home town, but what really lies behind the tale of Alie Gowdie, the Kilgour Witch? Can Sarah uncover the truth in order to right a centuries-old wrong? And what else might modern-day Kilgour be hiding, just out of sight?
About the Author
Sandra Ireland was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016), Bone Deep (2018) and The Unmaking of Ellie Rook (2019). She lives in Carnoustie, Scotland.