Don’t be fooled into thinking The Black Douglas is another historical romance of the kind churned out by contemporary Scottish writers. It couldn’t be further from that description. Yes, a romantic thread runs through the novel, but so also do political intrigue, bloody executions, terrifying witchcraft and paedocide most heinous. Set in fifteenth century Scotland, with a foray into the darkest corners of France, this is the Scottish version of “Game of Thrones”. Without the gratuitous sex, of course – it was written in the late nineteenth century, after all. But it does have its own larger-than-life villain who easily out-villains Ramsay Bolton!
And if all of that isn’t enough, there’s the writing – the beautiful descriptive writing of Samuel Rutherford Crockett, one of the best novelists ever produced by Scotland, but sadly much-neglected these days. I’m off now to read Maid Margaret, his sequel to this wonderful novel.
Review by Brendan Gisby