Angela MacRae Shanks

Strathavon Saga



The Blood & The Barley

The Blood and The Barley Cover
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A Riveting Historical Saga.

A Tale of Kinship and Love, Loyalty and Betrayal.

A Discovered Diamond and winner of Book of the Year 2018 at Discovering Diamonds - Independent Reviews of the Best in Historical Fiction.

Winner of a Chill With A Book Reader's Award.

A BRAG Medallion honoree (Book Reader's Appreciation Group.)


The North-Eastern Highlands, 1780. The disaster of the last Jacobite Rising has forced many changes on the Highlands and its people, few of them good. Torn from an ancient clan way of life into a harsh world of taxes, rent rises, land reforms and evictions, all that matters to the proud people of Strathavon is holding onto their land and way of life. Only to do so they must risk their lives.


Morven MacRae treads a perilous path - whisky smuggler and healer - apprentice to a suspected witch. Her friend and guide, Rowena, is singled out for extra attention by the authorities, and in particular by the local exciseman, who will stop at nothing to have her for his wife. When Rowena's young kinsman Jamie Innes returns to the glen of his birth, Morven hopes perhaps all will now be well.


Only Jamie's path is riskier still. Torn between honour and love, he chooses a dangerous course. He's driven by a fierce loyalty to his kinswoman ... or so it seems. And by a desire to belong. Despite herself, Morven is intrigued by him. But when it becomes apparent there's a traitor in the glen, Jamie's true motives are less clear. Can she trust him? For this is a mystical land of lore and superstition. A place where loyalties are tested and secrets kept close.


If you are drawn to magical storytelling, vivid characters, and authentic historical settings, The Blood And The Barley will resonate with you. A fascinating tale of a lost way of life and a sensitive love story. Perfect for fans of the Poldark and Outlander novels.

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"Angela has created a convincing world for her novel and given us characters to believe in and care about. This is a strong story crafted in a period and setting that readers are interested in. She has a sophisticated writing style that's also sensitive and intelligent and lends itself extremely well to historical fiction."


Lesley McDowell, writer & literary critic with the Herald, the Scotsman & the Independent on Sunday.



Angela MacRae Shanks was born in Garmouth, a village near the mouth of the river Spey in north-east Scotland and still lives near here with her family and two cats.

Her mother was born in Strathavon – a real place – and the maternal side of her family all belong to this remote and beautiful glen. This is a place close to Angela’s heart, an area she has been visiting since childhood. Here she first heard tales of the dramatic history of the area, its people and their struggles, and became fascinated by it.

Growing up in Moray, a beautiful part of Scotland known as ‘malt whisky country’, a love of Scottish history soon burgeoned. In particular, the history of the county’s illicit past and the smuggling of uisge-beatha, the water of life, prompted the germ of an idea for a series of novels to take root. Her love of the natural world and the folklore of the Highlands, combined with her training in aromatherapy and natural therapies prompted a desire to weave herbal lore into her stories. Those who healed using plants and the wisdom of nature, usually women, were often condemned as witches, and she felt the need to explore this injustice.

The Blood and the Barley, first in The Strathavon Saga, is what grew from all this.



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