The sequel to Outlander, I had a hard time with this book, solely because of the atmosphere. From very early on it’s apparent that things are not going to end well and there’s such a fatalistic, cycling, grinding sensation throughout the whole book that it was a little tough my sense of peace and tranquility.
Dragonfly in Amber starts in the 1960s, and you know right away that things have gone terribly, terribly wrong for Claire and Jaime. There is excellent connection to the events in the beginning of the first book, but overall I didn’t always love the parts of the book that took place in the 1960s – I can appreciate the reason they are there, but I am by far the most engaged when we’re back in the 1740s.
I would have to say that I felt like the best thing she did was to inject a great amount of feeling into the description of The Forty-Five. By the time we got to Culloden Moor she had really covered how wretched, and cold, and hungry the Highlanders were, as well as their desperate situation. In addition to the suspense you feel a growing sick sense of dread – knowing how things are going to end, not just from history but from the foreshadowing earlier in the book.
By the time we get to April 1746 our beloved characters are freezing, emotionally, sometimes physically beaten, starving, and sick. I couldn’t bear to listen to the book, but I also couldn’t bear not to listen.
I think this was enhanced by the fact that I’ve been to Edinburgh Castle, seen Holyrood House, and walked on Culloden Moor. I’ve been to Glenfinnan, where Charles raised his father’s standard, and stood on the battlements at Stirling Castle. I know that I have a romantic’s view of Scotland, but I’ve seen many of these places, and it was a strange and vivid experience, to see them again through Claire’s eyes.