Victorian Victims and Viking Burials

For fans of Outlander – you’ll love the time travel perspectives, the mystery, and the Scottish headlands.


  • Are in the mood for an atmospheric read
  • Want a Victorian-era murder mystery
  • Love multiple POVs

TitleWomen of the Dunes  | Author: Sarah Maine | Rating: 3.5/5

What an atmospheric read! I loved the sea-lashed Scottish headlands, the rainy and stormy weather, the murder mystery, and the interwoven tales of three women.

Libby Snow has always felt the pull of Ullanessm a lush Scottish island enshrouded in myth and deeply important to her family. Her great-great-grandmother Ellen was obsessed with the strange legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the nearly lifeless body of her husband—and who inspired countless epic poems and the island’s name.

I loved how the setting was its own character and it both helped and hindered Libby – starting from when she first finds that boot and the bone attached to it.

Central to the mystery is an ornate chalice and Libby, an archaeologist, finally has permission to excavate the site where Ulla is believed to have lived. But what Libby finds in the ancient dunes is a body from the Victorian era, clearly murdered…and potentially connected to Ellen.

I especially loved the multiple mysteries – you have the Victorian-era murder victim, the stolen chalice, and the Viking tale of Ulla. The three story timelines are told from different perspectives:

  • 9th century Norsewoman, Ulla, and her star-crossed lover
  • 19th century woman, Ellen
  • 21st century archaeologist, Libby

Ullanessm, a Scottish island, is filled with lore and ancient stories, that the main characters are all drawn to for different reasons. All cross and interweave into a page-turning read that keeps you guessing what the archaeological and the human mysteries are.

The book does a great job weaving in Libby’s goals – both personal and professional – with the Scottish Sturrock family around her. I did think there were cliches, like the greedy Sturrock sister-in-law, and the unwanted children and the womanizing brother, but all in all, I think even those cliches brought the story to life.

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