Beneath by Gill Arbuthnott

beneath

I was given an ARC of this work

3 out of 5 stars.

For those of you who really like Scottish mythology but are peeved that there are so few works focusing on Kelpies, look no further, we have the book for you! In a small town in 16th century Scotland, Jess’ best friend has been taken by a black horse with blue eyes. She tries to convince her family, but the only one who will believe her is her grandmother. Fortunately, Jess’ grandmother just might know how to get the kidnapped girl home.

This book is a short, fairy-tale like read for younger teens. The pacing is brisk and keeps you turning pages.

I do like this book, but did not fall in love with it. The main relationship struggle is a love triangle, which I don’t really ever feel drawn too. Having never been in love with two boys at the same time, I don’t have a lot of empathy or understanding of what would lead someone to be able to have deep romantic feelings for more than one person. This is not a problem with the book, merely a problem with my perspective, but it did make it less enjoyable.

My other large concern is that the setting is extremely general. Until I read the synopsis, I had no idea it was supposed to be placed in Scotland. It could just as easily be the British, or French, or really any Western European countryside sometime between the middle ages and now. There was nothing characteristic of a certain time or place besides a pre-industrial farm, which could easily exist even now, just somewhere very rural. I found the scenery very bland and the characters didn’t have much vibrancy either. There was not enough time or attention put into the characters to make them seem like real people. Everyone just seems to have one dominant personality trait and it goes no further.

This is a quick, enjoyable read for anyone young looking for fantasy, but it did not blow me away. I read it in a couple of hours. It drew me in, but it is something it is likely I will never read again.

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