Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips, ©2016

Secrets of the Shetlands, Book 1

My Review:

As the music drew her, Loni Ford came to an antique furniture shop. Somehow it soothed her. Calling to her deeper than she had ever felt before. To a homeland of the heart.

Cover Art
   "Welcome to you all!" David called out. "Especially to you who have come from throughout Shetland to join us, and also from mainland Scotland and England. As chief of our small but proud island clan, I extend hearty greetings on behalf of the people of Whales Reef. May you find the warmth of our hearts refreshing to your spirits, and may your parting be no longer as strangers but as friends."
   --The Inheritance, 244
Explore the Shetland Islands.   The picturesque town of Lerwick,  Shetland, has a lot to offer visitors. Discover this compact island capital, with a beautiful old waterfront as well as great shops and lively bars and cafés.  It is one of the stops on Verstraete Travel's escorted Viking Passage Cruise departing Aug. 29.  Link to brochure:    Space is limited - call 1.800.565.9267 or email: As the long winter and spring have passed, entering into summer and the annual June solstice activities, David Tulloch longed for an end to the hold of finances resulting from the lack of a will at laird Macgregor Tulloch's passing. As clan chief, he oversees the people and holdings of the island. The main source of employment is the woolen mill, especially for the widows of fishermen lost at sea.

Generations back the composing of lairdship and chief rested upon one person. Because of the absence of an elder son, the duties and responsibilities were divided between two remaining sons, and trickled down between following heirs. This generation, the question is who is the continuation going to be through?

This is the first book I have read by Michael Phillips and I look forward to the series following in book 2, The Cottage. I especially liked the history of the generations, placing each one, and the follow-up discovery of their lives. This will carry over well into the second book. David Tulloch has wisdom beyond his years in knowing what is worthy and attainable to be spoken of, when to speak and when to be silent. I thought the book flowed very nicely, interweaving between Loni's story and the island happenings. There is a family tree and a map of Whales Reef in the front I found very helpful in sorting out heritage of generations. I would like some recipes from the bake shop! This book was a hit with me, and... I would give it a ten rating.

Change Is Coming To Whales Reef
The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.
   While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island
and its traditional way of lifehangs in the balance.
   Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .
   Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

Shetland (/ˈʃɛtlənd/; Scottish Gaelic: Sealtainn), also called the Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of the island of Great Britain and forms part of the United Kingdom.

Enjoy this excerpt from The Inheritance ~ Chapter 1

Part 1
June 1924


A Boy and a Bird


On a late afternoon of a surprisingly warm day, a small lad sat on a large stone with the blue of sky and water spreading out before him. The air was full of motion, but for this one of Shetland’s minor islands the wind was relatively light. The chair-rock of his perch jutted out of the ground near a high bluff overlooking the sea.
   The boy lifted his face to the fragrant breeze as he watched the birds soaring above. He loved the birds, and he loved the sea. But today that love was tinged with sadness.
   He looked beside him. On a tuft of sea grass lay a tiny bird with a broken wing.
   The boy was only seven, but the music of the angels stirred within him. He valued life in all its forms. From almost the moment he was born he possessed an uncanny connection to the animal kingdom. It was not merely that he loved animals. This boy understood them far beyond the usual capacity of humans to comprehend their winged and four-footed brethren of creation.
   By the time he was three, his father and mother avowed that he knew what every dog around him was thinking. With searching eyes he looked at the infinitely fascinating nonhuman faces of the creatures around him. By age four he walked among the sheep and cows and ponies his father tended for the laird as if he were one of them. He talked to them too. His strange communications, however, came in whispers, gestures, and otherworldly noises whose subtleties were known only to the animals. A word or sign from the boy brought instant obedience from any of the laird’s half-dozen sheepdogs, as well as their own Shep, the boy’s constant companion now resting at his feet.
   A brief gust blew up from the cliff face in front of him, ruffling the tiny bird’s feathers and sending the boy’s carroty thatch into a momentary flurry. He steadied himself on the stone and breathed deeply.
   Those living beings most at home here—who had been here the longest and doubtless the first to settle in this place—were those who had made peace with this land of wind. The continuous currents were sometimes their ally, often a stimulus, occasionally a friend . . . but never an enemy. Wind was necessary to their survival, whether generated by the earth spinning on its axis or by their own powerfully created musculature.
   These wind-lovers were the birds.
   The winged species of the Shetlands, at once exceptional yet commonplace, were majestic and colorful in their diversity. For sheer quantity they seemed numerous as the sands surrounding these isolated islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. If the ancient parable was true that two were once sold for less than a penny, no one would now pay a penny for even a thousand of the gulls, thrushes, swifts, swallows, sparrows, finches, and bramblings that swarmed these moors, inlets, and rocky coastlines.
   But earthly eyes do not always perceive eternal merit. Even the tiniest of these had worth for those who saw them as creatures imagined into being out of God’s fathering heart. The most insignificant of creatures—both birds and boys—had stories to tell.
   Young Sandy Innes, son of the laird’s gamekeeper, had come upon the bird lying helpless and alone beside the rock. A pang seized his heart, for the tiny life was precious to him. That life, however, looked fragile and was ebbing away.
   He knew the bird was dying.
   With a single gesture to Shep behind him, he sat down on the rock. The dog had made no move since. The first impulse of Sandy’s boyish love was to stroke the feathery back. But he knew that doing so would frighten the poor tiny thing. He did not want it to die in fear, but in peace.
   So he sat.
   And waited.
   A tear crept into his eyes as he gazed on the tiny creature beside him.
   When he heard footsteps moments later, the boy turned. A tall figure was walking toward him.
   The man saw the bird on the ground. He sat down on the thick grass with the bird between himself and the boy, the black-and-white form of his gamekeeper’s sheepdog motionless behind them.
   No word was spoken for several minutes. Neither felt compelled to disturb the tranquility of the moor behind them and the sea before them.
   “What are ye aboot, Sandy?” said the man at length.
   “The wee birdie is dyin’,” replied the boy. His high voice was soft, tender, and unsteady.
   “Yes . . . I see.”
   “I wanted tae sit wi’ him so he wouldna be alone. I didna want him tae die wi’oot a body wi’ him.”
   The man pondered the words. The only sounds were the breeze, which rose into an occasional swirl about their faces, and the gently splashing waves against the rocky shoreline below.
Michael Phillips, The Inheritance Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016. Used by permission.

Michael Phillips Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly thirty more books. Over the past thirty years, his persistent efforts have helped reawaken interest in the writings of nineteenth century Scotsman George MacDonald. Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland, but make their home near Sacramento, California. Michael has also co-written with Judith Pella.

***Thank you to author Michael Phillips and to Bethany House Publishers for my review copy of The Inheritance, Book 1 in the Secrets of the Shetlands series. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga
Book 2, The Cottage, releases in October 2016
Cover Art

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