Beneath

I was happy when I woke up – yesterday – because I knew I’d be able to finish reading Gill Arbuthnott’s Beneath, which I’d had to abandon as bed beckoned the night before. It had turned out to be more of a one-sitting book than I’d expected.

It’s all about kelpies and wolves, and love. Set somewhere not too impossibly far from Dundee (I think) in 1577, it’s about 15-year-old Jess who lives on a farm with her family, and possibly a little in love with her best friend Freya’s cousin Magnus.

There are two main problems in the area. Small children disappear every now and then. And there are dangerous wolves around, in increasing numbers. Also, Jess feels as if someone is watching her.

Gill Arbuthnott, Beneath

That someone is Finn, who is a kelpie, and he’s been watching Jess for years because he’s in love with her. When he finally decides to steal her, he accidentally takes Freya instead. Boys, eh..?

I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the two girls and the two boys and their families all end up in the same war against the wolves, and there is much prejudice towards the other side, from both sides. This is fast-paced and funny and romantic (although you can’t work out who Jess will decide on in the end), with plenty of bravery.

It isn’t a terribly historical novel as such; I suspect it needed to be set in the past for simplicity and because of the wolves. But the characters are all quite modern in their ways.

Very exciting, and it’s fun to see how kelpies vary from one work of fiction to another. Also, Finn is such a romantic name…

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