In Silence Cries the Heart

Romance - Historical
290 Pages
Reviewed on 04/17/2024
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Author Biography

During the summer of 2019 while on a tour of Scotland, I and my fellow travelers stopped at Urquhart Castle, the ruins of which rest on the banks of Loch Ness. Visiting the dungeon there, I read a placard that mentioned the name of its most famous prisoner, Domhnull Donn, a cattle thief who had been executed not so much because he was a reiver but because he had the audacity to fall in love with the laird’s daughter, Mary Grant. When I asked the tour guide for further information about this doomed pair, he really didn’t know a whole lot beyond what was stated there on the display.

For some reason, I just couldn’t shake the memory of the castle, the dungeon, and the two lovers themselves, so when I got home to New York, I started digging around to find whatever I could about Donal and Mary. During that research, I found a wonderful book by William Mackay called, "Urquhart and Glenmoriston, Olden Times in a Highland Parish (1893)" which included intriguing comments about Domhnull, calling him "the Rob Roy of his generation" who "had more poetry in his soul than the famous Macgregor had." In addition, Mackay also recounted Domhnull's capture, his final days, and even his last words before succumbing to the ax. I started to think, What kind of love could be so strong that it would be worth dying for?

Right then, I knew I had my hands on a tremendous story!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

What is it that lures the present to the past and the past to the present? Is it a love so powerful that it can only transcend time? “There are many bargains one makes in life: honor for power; integrity for wealth; character for renown.” The power of the written word can outshine all these feats, but for Donal Donn, an aspiring seventeenth-century poet, his love for Mary, daughter of the laird of Undlay, is more powerful to him than anything he can write. And now, his forbidden love with someone above his station will have him meet his doom. In Catherine Hughes’ In Silence Cries the Heart, two star-crossed lovers will challenge the confines of time as a twenty-first-century schoolteacher, Caitlyn Hegarty, finds herself entangled in the tragic history of the doomed lovers as Mary’s voice rings true through Caitlyn’s heart. Can Caitlyn unravel the mystery and set things right?

Catherine Hughes’ novel, In Silence Cries the Heart, was inspired by the true story of Domhnull Donn and Mary Grant. Taking the facts of history and intermingling them with fiction, the author has woven a tapestry of parallel plots set in the seventeenth and the twenty-first centuries. The narrative effectively sets the stage, both past and present, and lures the reader into the web of plots and subplots of both eras. The story is told in the first person narrative from multiple points of view, and each person speaking is identified at the beginning of the chapter in which they tell their side of the story. The author shares her passion for history and literature, including quotes from the poetry penned by Donn. At the end of the novel, the author shares some interesting historical facts about the characters and events that are the makings of this epic story. A fascinating and engaging read.

Risah Salazar

Embarking on a journey from Boston to Scotland, Caitlyn experiences the adventure of a lifetime. During this getaway, she sheds the structured life of a teacher, embracing a carefree existence. Deviating from her planned itinerary with a casual excuse, she stumbles upon the elusive castle she had been seeking. This castle, a silent witness to centuries past, unfolds the poignant love story of Mary and Donal. Their tale, set against the backdrop of historical and political intricacies, reveals the challenges faced by Mary, the determined daughter of Lord Undlay. Forced to marry George Campbell, a man of wealth but lacking in gentility, Mary must safeguard the fortunes and lands of both clans. Donal, hailing from a once-reputable clan, faces the aftermath of the Campbell clan's ruthless actions that left his kin decimated and impoverished. Despite his diminished status, Donal's gallant manners sharply contrast with George's.

In Silence Cries The Heart commences with artistic flair and vivid imagery, a promising prelude to a captivating narrative. The interweaving of past and present stories adds a charming layer to the plot, complemented by exquisite poems that serve as the perfect icing on the literary cake. Catherine Hughes exhibits exceptional prowess in crafting both prose and poetry, introducing a plethora of characters that breathe life into Mary and Donal’s love story. Readers are immersed in the sweetness of young love and the heart-wrenching tragedy of a love lost. This enchanting story will appeal to fans of historical fiction, slow-burn romance, and adventure, promising a compelling and emotionally resonant journey.

Delene Vrey

In Silence Cries the Heart by Catherine Hughes is a historical romance set in 17th-century Scotland. In 2018, American teacher Caitlyn Hagerty was on holiday in Scotland. When she faints while exploring Undlay castle, she is rocked by a vision so real that she feels as if she is a participant in the events. Her vision reveals the story of Donal Donn, a raider and poet, and Mary McElroy, the daughter of the laird of Undlay. What unfolds is the tale of how the two young people find each other and how a star-crossed love blossoms. Caitlyn sees the lovers' story unfold in two riveting visions and is driven to record it for posterity. In a time when justice could come quickly and be deadly, with blurred lines of what is right and honorable, she weaves a multifaceted story backed by a rich history of tradition and superstition and a love that would surpass time.

Based on the true story of Domhnull Donn and Mary Grant, In Silence Cries the Heart is a beautifully written work of historical fiction. Staying true to the story's basic facts, Catherine Hughes pens a tale filled with poetry and youthful yearning while providing a detailed description of 17th-century Scotland as background. In a time when it is important to marry for political alliances and appearance, the love between the daughter of a laird and a raider promises heartbreak. Add to the mix dishonorable men who would act out of selfishness and greed and you have the makings for betrayal and vindictiveness that drives the story to fruition. The language used is flowing and sometimes lyrical, while there is a constant foreboding of the end. In Silence Cries the Heart unfolds quickly and develops at a good pace with much detail. Some interesting themes, such as honor, loving the wrong person, and political motivations when considering engagements and other important matters, are touched upon. What stood out for me was the superstition that was still believed in despite the Christian culture already prevalent in the area at the time.