Book #29

Sita's Story by Helen Moir and Ron Halliday

Sita’s Story is a supernatural period adventure fiction tale about a Scottish urban myth from Lanarkshire in Scotland . Written by Helen Moir and Ron Halliday over twenty five years ago and now being unearthed for the first time.

Growing up in Larkhall, dangerously close to the ruins of Broomhill house, I often had my adventures curtailed with warnings that The Black Lady would get me. Having her existence drummed into me at such a young age sparked a terror and curiosity that is still to leave me twenty years later. Her story is infamous in our town, so I picked this novel up with both delight and trepidation.

I quickly came to realise that the names and the places didn't correspond with what I was used to, and that this was a work of pure fiction. Disappointed, but undeterred, I was glad I ploughed on, as I noticed whispers of the place I grew up, and realised I would eventually meet Moir and Halliday's Black Lady.

Moir and Halliday have given us a scandalous and emotive period fiction, encapsulating everything between love, family drama, fights over titles, untimely deaths, and even a mysterious paranormal overlord. I'm a huge fan of stories detailing this era, and I enjoyed the social commentary, the expectations of the nobility, and the gorgeous contrasting descriptions of Avonbrae and India. The novel has a hint of the Gothic surrounding it, but reads mainly as a period text.

The characters were incredibly well developed, and I found myself falling in love with them more and more. Their actions, whether deserving of vilification or not, could be understood clearly by the deep rooted histories Moir and Halliday weaved around them. The Scott-Galloways were noble, yet entirely dysfunctional, making it such a joy to follow their sorry tales.

Although hoping for more of a supernatural element to the story, I felt there was just enough queer and questionable things going on to get me through. I expected the phantom to be present from the beginning, killing villagers with her frozen stare and the like. What I was given instead was something far more subtle, yet a thousand times more chill-inducing than the tales of the Lady I've heard only a thousand times before.

This was an excellent adventure to take with the Scott-Galloways, and picturing Larkhall as I read was a new and wonderful experience. I'll be making sure I soon pick up Helen's most recent book, The Black Lady of Broomhill, as old obsessions can take some time to disappear.