Sisters of Castle Leod
by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard
Publication Date: January 19, 2023
Black Rose Writing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Finalist - 2022 American Writing Awards
Millions are fans of Diana Gabaldon's popular Outlander books and television series, but few know that Gabaldon's fictional Castle Leoch was inspired by a real Scottish castle, Castle Leod. The two sisters who lived there at the turn of the twentieth century were among the most fascinating and talked-about women of their era.
Lady Sibell Mackenzie is a spiritualist, a believer in reincarnation, and a popular author of mystical romances. Petite and proper, she values tradition and duty. Her younger sister Lady Constance, swimming champion and big game hunter, is a statuesque beauty who scandalizes British society with her public displays of Greek-style barefoot dancing. The differences between the sisters escalate into conflict after Sibell inherits their late father's vast estates and the title 3rd Countess of Cromartie. But it is the birth of Sibell's daughter that sets in motion a series of bizarre and tragic events, pitting sister against sister and propelling Sibell on a desperate mission to challenge the power of fate.
Sisters of Castle Leod, by award-winning author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, is the emotionally charged story of two sisters torn apart by jealousy and superstition, and the impossible leap of faith that could finally bring them together.
Available for Pre-Order
Sisters Sibell and Constance Mackenzie have grown up in Castle Leod with their father, the Earl of Cromartie. Sibell, the older sister, has found solace in books and the mysteries of the castle. Differing from Sibell, Constance thrives on adventure, horseback riding, hunting and athletics. When it is time, their father decides that Sibell will inherit the estate and titles that go along with it. Sibell takes her duties seriously and seeks to care for the people and lands that she is given charge of. With her marriage to Lt. Col. Edward Blunt, Sibell also secures hydroelectric power for the people. However, when Sibell's first child dies mysteries shortly after her birth, Sibell blames Constance for setting a bizarre chain of events in motion. Sibell breaks contact with her sister and sets on a path of spiritualism, hoping to see her daughter once again. Meanwhile, Constance travels the world, seeking to live a healthy life. However, Sibell sees Constance's actions as constantly undermining her and attempting to gain the estate.
Castle Leod is the inspiration for the fictional Castle Leoch. However, Castle Leod was the home to two very real sisters with amazing and magical lives of their own. The writing immediately caught my attention with the story of Castle Leod's ghost, the Nightwatchman. Through this story, I could easily imagine the atmosphere of the castle and could easily see the distinct personalities of each sister. The story is told through Sibell's point of view alone, diving into Sibell's duties as Countess, emotions and journey into spiritualism. Constance is still a fully formed character and force within the book, her life could definitely carry a book of its own. I did enjoy reading about the sister's interactions and how it seemed that Constance may have been purposely pushing Sibell's buttons or that Sibell always saw the worst in her sister's actions. Sibell's spiritual journey was a large part of the story, I was taken in by the mystery of past lives as much as Sibell was and was equally amazed at her strength in realizing what was true and what she simply wanted to be true. In the end, Sisters of Castle Leod is about the bond of sisterhood and creating your own path in the world.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
"Heartbreaking and redemptive...a thoroughly engrossing story that will have readers quickly turning the pages." -Megan Chance, bestselling author of A Splendid Ruin
"This expertly written novel is a beautiful example of how historical facts can be researched and transformed into a work of art. To say this novel was difficult to put down would be an understatement. From the first page, I knew this would become one of my favorite historical novels." -Sublime Book Reviews
"A magical, mystical, mesmerizing tale of two real-life noble sisters of Castle Leod, caught up in shocking passions that cast them in opposition, yet desperate for reconciliation." -Rebecca Rosenberg, triple-gold seed-winning novelist of Champagne Widows
"With shocking revelations and twists throughout the book, the reader is never sure what each new chapter will bring. Overall, with an excellent plot and character development, this book is awe-inspiring." -Pacific Book Review
"Whilst the historical element of this novel can easily be compared to some of the great historical novelists, like Sharon Kay Penman, the ghostly apparitions and contact with the spirit world add an original view of a woman who was, in so many ways, ahead of her time." -Readers' Favorite
"The stage is set for sibling rivalry [in this] grand novel about two fascinating sisters of the Scottish Highlands at the turn of the 20th century." -Sheila Myers, author of The Truth of Who You Are
"...a carefully researched historical novel with a touch of the supernatural." -Gail Ward Olmsted, author of Landscape of a Marriage: Central Park Was Only the Beginning
About the Author
Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: THE BEAUTY DOCTOR, a compelling historical novel steeped in mystery with strong elements of a medical thriller (Readers' Favorite), and TEMPTATION RAG: A NOVEL, a resonant novel ... about the birth and demise of ragtime ... luxuriously crafted (Publishers Weekly). Her books have been finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and National Indie Excellence Awards, received a gold medallion from Book Readers Appreciation Group, and been named a historical fiction Discovered Diamond.
Elizabeth and her family live near Phoenix, Arizona.