Review of ‘The AdderStane’ by Keegan Murray of The Shetland Times,14th April, 2017

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Top reviews from United Kingdom


4.0 out of 5 stars Quite something

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2017

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This is a novel that confounds expectations. A story that appears to be a wicker man themed thriller develops with the introduction of a very unexpected character two thirds of the way through (no plot spoiler this) and takes the reader in directions both unexpected and tricky to absorb. I found myself checking back towards the end to make sure I had understood completely and for that I gave this four stars but the author is to be congratulated on creating something of a unique experience. Having experienced remote Scottish islands myself and yet not this remote I was easily transported to the place and absorbed into the foggy horrors that unfold. If you like your reads twisty and brain stretching then this is for you.
This was a different kind of book, a wonderful mystery in the mould of the Wicker Man; we are enveloped in another tight-knit and intense community, this time on Fetlar a small island which is part of Shetland. The story follows Fruma, a retired teacher who is holidaying on the island and in need of some time to come to terms with where she is in her life. Soon though strange things begin to happen, both generally and to Fruma in particular. Something untoward is going on, what are the mysteries of Papil Water and what is the Black Water that has suddenly appeared? And how does this tie into a missing man who went missing years before? Her dreams become vivid and invested with numbers and recurrent images which mean nothing to her at first. But gradually, with the help of the local vicar Fruma begins to see her connections are more deeply embedded in this island than she could have possibly anticipated and all point to the Adderstane, a prophecy that apparently is meaningless but is, of course, anything but.

This is an intense read, one that has you checking back to make sure you haven’t missed something important. It breaks several ‘rules’ in its storytelling that might not suit everyone but add to the overall sense that this is really happening and not just a story, if only we had the whit and imagination to hear what these ancient rocks might tell us. In a way it is hard to say I ‘enjoyed’ this book in a traditional sense because that would suggest that when I finished it I stopped wondering about it. You really do want to believe the truth behind it, the stories that are hidden in folklore and fairy stories. If you like something a bit different then this might well be for you.

David John Griffin

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and clever supernatural mystery

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 May 2018

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The Adderstane by Avalina Kreska is a gripping mystical/paranormal story which grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

The novel started with the setting of the remote island of Fetlar. The boy Liam investigates a stone circle with the aid of a metal detector. He finds a strange ornamentally engraved golden cup. Then he has a strange mystical vision – the first of many had by the different characters in the book.

Meanwhile, a woman called Fruma – a retired teacher from the mainland – arrives at a guest house on the island which is run by Mary and Peter. Fruma settles in then investigates Tresta Bay. There she also has a mystical vision. Later she meets Reverend Mackey. They discuss the island’s dark and rich history.

That night, Fruma dreams of black water, a golden chalice, a dog, and the number repeated number 237.

The next morning, there is black water and dead fish in the bay.

“Now the sea just looked murky, like dark, stewed tea.”

There are some wonderful descriptions of the island as well as in-depth descriptions of the strange occurrences.

“A solitary skylark started singing: its long liquid warble hung in the air like a shiny bauble of melodrama.”

The Reverend Mackey tells of a father and son, Haby and Heed, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, one who vanished another who died under mysterious circumstances.

Fruma discusses her vision with Reverend Mackey and she learns of the Papar project.

More characters are introduced with their own mystical or paranormal events occurring to them, for instance a young girl called Lucy.

Fruma is drawn further into the mystery and intrigue of the island and she does more investigating.

We are introduced to a couple of flashbacks of Haby and Heed and their strange supernatural events which caused their eventual deaths.

As the novel progresses we are drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the island and its inhabitants, strange events and occurrences.

The characters are strongly drawn and the story well-written. My only constructive criticism would be for some of the narrative to be edited, as it was sometimes confusing which person was speaking.

The plot drives forward to an extraordinary and very surprising ending, with not one but two or even three twists.

All in all, a fascinating and clever supernatural mystery which I can highly recommend.

Patrick Phelps

4.0 out of 5 stars The AdderStane Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 March 2017

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Really enjoyed this book, feel as if I have been on some sort of mystical journey – wouldn’t be surprised to see a DeLorean parked in my drive!

Mrs R D Major

5.0 out of 5 stars A great first novel from this author. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2017

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I really enjoyed reading this book. The author captured the mysterious atmosphere of the Shetlands on every page. It had a very unexpected ending. I look forward to the sequel appearing.

Amazon Customer

3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed it till the finish Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 May 2017

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the ending was too far fetched .enjoyed it till the finish.

Mrs.G Goodinson

4.0 out of 5 stars Evokes the mystique of the land…. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 December 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel set in the remote Shetland Islands. It is well written and took me to a land of myths and legends which captured my imagination.

reviews from other countries


4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive, compelling; twist ending

Reviewed in the United States on 29 July 2021

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Really enjoyed most of this book! It is atmospheric, tense, and intimate, and the dialogue is very strong. I adored Fruma, appreciated Mackey, and really, really felt for Liam. The sheer goodness of the protagonists contrasted well with the sheer menace of the dark forces at work. Up until the twist ending, I was fully immersed in the story. And the twist, well, that’ll go over differently for each reader. I was disappointed, but I know a lot of people will really like it. The reason I gave this book 4 stars was because almost every conversation had misplaced paragraph breaks that badly confused who was speaking, and the frequent comma splices had me re-reading almost every sentence so I could give it the intended intonation. Just a case of a strong story partly hampered by confusing punctuation, and this might not bother everybody. But it seemed worth mentioning, for readers like me who rely on punctuation for clarity (and for a more relaxed reading experience).

I am really glad I read this book, though. I love ghost stories/mysteries/the paranormal, and having lived in the UK for 5 years, having these landscapes and these accents in my head again was very, very pleasant.

Kindle Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Adderstane review in story form Reviewed in the United States on 5 March 2017

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The fog lay heavy over Plano, Texas, USA, as the three friends each opened their copy of the Adderstane Prophecy to chapter twelve and immediately stepped into a different land just outside the little seaside town of Lerwick in Scotland’s remote Shetland Islands. Totally nonplussed, they surveyed their surroundings with obvious delight.
“Sweet doings, Vaile, the accuracy of your long distance transport skills are improving.”

Vaile shrugged off the compliment from Rose. “Look at this place. It’s exactly as Avalina describes it in the book.”

“You expected otherwise?” chimed in Cully. “The book is insanely accurate in the details it divulges…”

“…and irritatingly dodgy about the mysterious prophecy.” Rose and Cully routinely finished each other’s sentences as twins are prone to do. “So, Vaile, get us out of the middle of the road where we are as out of place as a saguaro cactus in Scotland and port us to Fetlar where we’re more likely to blend in with the craggy, windswept landscape.”

“All right, girls, turn to chapter four.”

A right properly stunned Avalina Kreska dropped the full bag of groceries she was carrying as three slightly bedraggled older women suddenly materialized before her very eyes…on the roof of her car no less. “What the…” Vaile interrupted then spoke apologetically.

“Oops. Sorry about the car. We’ll pay for repairs.”

The short angry Scotswoman let loose a series of Gaelic expletives that a certified linguist would blush to interpret but the resulting effect was clear in any language.

“We’re from Texas and are real fans of your book. In fact, it is such an inerrant blend of reality and the supernatural that we think you might be one of us.”

Avalina blushed. “Go on now. Get outta here. Yer outta yer <expletive> minds.”

Climbing down from the roof of the car, Cully placed her arm around Avalina’s shoulder. “And we can offer expert guidance if you’re planning on writing a sequel.”

Being the more practical of the three, Rose busied herself by gathering the spilled groceries. “Ignore them. You don’t need our help. Your book is great just the way it is.”

Avalina felt the tension leave her body. “Thank you. But you might just know a few tricks I’d really like learn.”

Vaile smiled as she agreed, with the following caveat. “You keep secret our spoilers and we’ll do the same for yours.

Cully just had to have the last word. “And I really want to meet that preacher guy to give him a piece…”

Avalina waved her hand and Cully’s lips suddenly sealed. “Shush!”


The Adderstane
By Avalina Kreska
5 stars.
Read it, you’ll like it.

A. Holland

4.0 out of 5 stars Edgy, gritty, cracking tale from Fetlar, The Shetland Islands. Reviewed in the United States on 26 March 2017

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A talented writer will draw their readers gradually into the setting of their story until they feel like a resident, a player in the scene. Avalina Kreska does this with ease, with excellent story crafting and methodical character-building. The AdderStane is an island story of folklore, set on Fetlar in the Shetland Islands – a place whose history is steeped in strange happenings, local loyalties and disputes, unexplained phenomena, past deaths and mysterious inhabitants.
Fruma is a visitor but she becomes embroiled in the island’s secrets and sucked into its mystery. The resulting revelations are shocking and difficult for her to understand. This is a multi-layered clever story chock full of supernatural history, intricate family difficulties and a generous sprinkling of the occult. The tension is palpable. I spent paragraphs holding my breath and I loved the way Fruma made each discovery with an edgy fearful determination. A wonderful read.

reality bites

5.0 out of 5 stars The writing is both beautiful and informative Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2017

This is a remarkable first novel by an author known previously for her poetry and flash fiction, an incredible leap forward in terms of complexity, in terms of her ability to plot and populate and complicate a landscape with persons with conflicting personalities and motives and intentions. The writing is both beautiful and informative, set in what will be to many the mysterious and exotic Shetland Island of Fetlar. The story involves the innocent unearthing of a sacred relic, a seemingly benign event that sets off a chain reaction of events, coincidental with the arrival to the island of a former schoolteacher on holiday, events that eventually threaten the existence of this seemingly (this is deceptive) insular community. The writing in the final chapters achieves an impressive lyric power that tackles the abstract with uncanny concreteness, a truly stunning cap to an already complex and deftly handled-narrative.

Reviews from Readers via email

Dear Avalina,

I very much enjoyed the two AdderStane novels, which I found resonated with various concerns and interests… I do know this area, but consider the relationship between consciousness and the land to be a neglected and significant topic…

Kind Regards,

Patrick Booker

‘The AdderStane’. By Avalina Kreska.

‘I’ve never read anything like this book before. It took me two full reads to get to grips with it and on the second read, I read slowly and I took notes so I could cross-reference events and characters. I spent two days doing nothing but reading ‘The AdderStane’. I gave it my complete concentration. I am glad I did. 

The reason I had to read it twice, having thought about it, now I have read it properly, was down to expectation. I read a lot and I am so used to stories progressing in a stylised way, the first time I read ‘The AdderStane’, I was caught out by how unorthadox it is. It is certainly no formulaic read. I was expecting the plot of the book to turn here, or there but never that way. I kept being spun off course so on my first read, I got bogged down. I admit I skim read the end and decided the novel wasn’t up to much – but I couldn’t get it out of my mind because the story and the setting on Fetlar, one of the most remote islands in the Shetland archipelago, intrigued me. 

I decided to read it again and this time, read it properly. During the second reading, I made sure I understood all the historical religious references, every time I encountered one, and there are many, before I moved on. I found the website for the ‘Papar Project’ and I looked at maps of Fetlar and read about the island’s history, topography and geology. Having visited Fetlar in May 2018, (before I read the AdderStane), I can affirm Avalina Kreska’s descriptions of Tresta beach, Houbie and Funzie are exactly correct. 

The AdderStane is a supernatural tale, and it is a whodunit. There are references to books and films I spotted as I read. There is a bit of a Binchy romance going on between the pages. It is reminiscent of Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ and there is a flavour of Hardy’s ‘The Wicker Man’ in the plot. There is a touch of Wyndam’s ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’, Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’, Kubrik’s ‘2001 A Space Oddesy’, even a bit of Scott’s ‘Alien’, in the way some of the characters eat their food …… and yet, it’s nothing like any of them. It is truly original. 

At times, I feel, the descriptive writing is over done. Sometimes the turns of phrase the author uses are unusual in English, but often they work well as the phrase describes something so familiar, but in a slightly different way, giving the metaphor an interesting flavour. It all adds to the strangess, the otherness, of ‘The AdderStane’. The novel swings about, holding itself together fairly well, despite the jars from the axle of the plot and there are loose ends in the story and unexplained events. There are, however, many deft movements in the book and I read on wanting to know what was going to happen next. From chapter 15 on, the novel races to its conclusion and by the end of chapter 17, all seems in hand. But oh no! In Part 2, from chapter 18 onwards, the tale gets really weird and it is from here I’ve never read anything like ‘The AdderStane’ before. The totally unexpected ending introduces concepts of multi-lives, multi universes and the non- linear nature of time. The last three chapters and epilouge bring the events of the book sharply into focus and all the work of reading it becomes worthwhile. 

I believe there is more to come from Avalina Kreska, and I look forward to reading the sequel, taking those loose ends and unexplained events of ‘The AdderStane’ into her next novel which I will read carefully and thoroughly the first time round. ‘

Glen Buglass; artistic director, Regional Voice Theatre

Dear Avalina, I just finished your book! I loved it! , the ending was exciting too, 

did not expect it at all! I enjoyed it every much, certainly one of the best books of this year.

Greetings from the Netherlands! -Wouter Snijders

Just read the book in two six hour bursts. Loved it but also quite extraordinary. Can’t wait for the sequel. -Murray Cooper

Stephanie rated it 3 stars  liked it

Entertaining read for those who like a touch of the supernatural. The remoteness of the Shetland Isles adds a haunting atmosphere to a story in which past, present – alternative realities – collide. (Goodreads Review)

The AdderStane II – The Seven Stars of Burgalstou Reviews

David John Griffin

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enjoyable

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 March 2019

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I’ve taken a while to read and digest The Adderstane II – partly because I’ve had time limits recently but also I found it complex with richly described narrative including beautiful descriptions of the island, and I wanted to take my time to digest it.

There are certain psychological and philosophical elements run through the novel which I found interesting. The beginning starts with events which happened in the last chapter of the first book but then we are taken to Poland in 1768 where we meet a man called Maciej who is to be known as Mackey and who is summoned for a mission to the Scottish isle – Fetlar – to secure an ancient artifact.

There, he is introduced to Andrew who then introduces him to Reverand Gordan and his wife Ann. The spiritual aspects they discuss are interesting and surprising, with repercussions throughout the whole book. Is Mackey’s presence and influence on the island seen as good or evil?

We are introduced to many more characters throughout, like the boy Henki, Thomas, James Hunter, Jerome, Helina, all well observed and explained, interacting with each other in unexpected ways. We are told of the mysterious sisters: will Mackey get to see them, and how would that help in his mission if he did? What would be the fate of the sisters? What is the strange and mysterious number 237? What will the investigations by James uncover? Will it lead to tragedy? The ending took me by surprise.

I can tell that the author must have taken a lot of time to research for this novel – it’s packed with deep detail, both mystical, spiritual and the supernatural. There are sexual descriptions throughout the first half of the book: these are relevant and resonate with repercussions throughout the whole story, and are handled very well.

This is the sequel to The Adderstane but can easily be read on its own merits.

All in all, The AdderStane II – The Seven Stars of Burgalstou is an Imaginative and well-written novel by Avalina Kreska – I found it fascinating and enjoyed reading it very much. I urge you to read it.

From the United States

reality bites

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Sequel to The Adderstane

Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2019

This infectiously involving and readable backstory to The Adderstane is a superbly-crafted and modulated work of sustained mystery and suspense. Above all it is entertaining, which is the highest compliment that can be paid an author. After all, Shakespeare’s “purpose” in writing was to entertain, and look at the results. Kreska paces her story admirably and events and revelations grow naturally out of the characters’ personalities and motives and the situations they work themselves into, feeling not imposed by the author and coyly applied from the outside, but organic to the natures of all involved. This is not a facile accomplishment but the work of a true writer with her profound understanding of human nature and its foibles and the outcomes plausible when forces of nature collide. A reader unfamiliar with the first Adderstane will not flounder as this work stands on its own though the final pages do point back to events that concluded its predecessor.
This work and its author deserve a wide audience, and I hope she gets it. I for one anxiously await the third volume in this series and anything else that comes from the fecund imagination of Avalina Kreska.

Website comment:

I’ve finished your book which has surprised me. At first I found it difficult to read. However it suddenly it sprang into life and had me captivated. It is great the way in which the narrative interweaves with real places because for those of us who live here it lends authenticity. As with your previous book it was challenging how you wove ‘certain characters’ into the story. The thrust of the book, the nature of good and evil and the relationship between them was thought provoking and slightly disturbing. But this is the purpose of any work of “fiction” worth reading. All in all I will have no hesitation in recommending it, particularly to fellow Fetlarians. – Murray Cooper

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