Author: Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: July 27, 2020
Genre(s): Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 280
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The authors meld Scottish history circa 1745 and the Jacobite Rebellion with a background of Celtic fantasy. Ian, a burly red-headed Highlander, is sent by his clan's Laird to the Isle of Skye to hide a fortune in gems (intended to fund the rebellion) and keep it safe on the remote island.
In 1605, Robbie was cursed by a witch and doomed to a half-life of mystical sleep on a spectral boat that touches land about every 20 years or so. We gradually learn about the nature of the witches' curse and how the elements of the harp and the boat work together. And we discover that Robbie initially had seven chances to finds true love and be released from the curse, but has not found a suitable candidate (i.e. a man instead of a woman) until he washes ashore on Skye.
Ian and Robbie fall into insta-love very quickly but IMHO their compatibility is very lightly fleshed out in the story and we do not really get a sense of their dynamic and what their future could hold in a setting where same sex relationships are definitely not accepted. What we do get is a lot of logistics involving Ian and Robbie hiding from men seeking the jewels (and ending up sleeping in various caves and places around the island) and this considerably slowed down the overall pace of the book. Even the final scenes are burdened with the organization of the battle, Robbie's plans to help and a very long recounting of the results.
While I like the foundation of the story and the combination of history and fantasy, the pace of the book and the lengthy cat and mouse escapades around the island really sapped the strength of the story for me. 3 stars for "The Harp and the Sea" but I would recommend readers check out this book if they have an interest in Celtic fantasy.
I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.