Child of the Mist
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I first read Child of the Mist several years ago, and I remember thinking that it was the quintessential romance novel. It actually does meet several of the requirements for a good romance novel, but when I re-read it recently, I found that it wasn’t as good as I remembered. Still, despite all its flaws, it’s still a pretty decent book—one that I’ll probably read again.

Set in 1564 Scotland, Child of the Mist involves an ongoing feud between the Campbell and MacGregor clans. In order to end the feud, the head of Clan MacGregor arranges a marriage between his daughter and the tanist (next in line for the chieftanship) of Clan Campbell. Of course, neither Niall Campbell or Anne MacGregor are happy with this arrangement. Niall still mourns the death of his wife, and Anne is a strong-willed and rather modern woman who had never wanted to marry at all. Though there’s the usual lack of trust and communication, but the two must learn to work together in order to root out the traitor who’s trying to kill Niall in order to secure the chieftanship for himself.

There is plenty of action in this book, including the requisite kidnapping and attempted rape plots. Anne is a healer, and she’s accused of being a witch, so there are several scenes involving Niall swooping in to save Anne from various scrapes and altercations. The love scenes are adequate—not the best I’ve ever read but far from the worst as well.

I really enjoyed the book’s plot, even though it’s pretty formulaic. In a way, the formula makes the story feel familiar but not tired, like the romance novel version of comfort food. The main characters are well developed, although many of the secondary characters are one-note and undeveloped. The action also moves along nicely, without any real lulls or weak spots.

My main complaint is with the dialogue. I didn’t find it very convincing. I’ve read a vast number of books set in Scotland, and I’ve known a few real-life Scots, too, and they don’t really talk like that. In her book The Outlandish Companion, Diana Gabaldon (author of the Outlander series and, in my mind, an expert on writing Scottish characters and speech) lays out a very accurate depiction of the way Scots talk—and they didn’t really say “och” and “ye” and “dinna” every other word, even in the 16th century. Plus, I really don’t think that real-life Highlanders feel the need to mention their Highlander-ness every couple of sentences, like the characters in this book do. It seems that Morgan just tries too hard to be accurate and therefore winds up coming across as a hack instead.

Still, though, I will read Child of the Mist again, despite its faults. Though it’s not the best book ever written, I still enjoy reading it, and I’ll probably continue to trot it out once or twice a year. I would recommend it to anyone—especially to those who are looking for their first romance novel.

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