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Summary

A spell-binding novel combining Scottish folklore with hidden history, by the Sunday Times best-selling author Sally Magnusson.  

Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.

Isabel Aird is aghast when her husband is appointed doctor to an extraordinary waterworks being built miles from the city. But Isabel, denied the motherhood role that is expected of her by a succession of miscarriages, finds unexpected consolations in a place where she can feel the presence of her unborn children and begin to work out what her life in Victorian society is for.     

The hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of hundreds of navvies tunnelling day and night to bring clean water to diseased Glasgow 30 miles away - digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself. Here, just inside the Highland line, the membrane between the modern world and the ancient unseen places is very thin.     

With new life quickening within her again, Isabel can only wait. But a darker presence has also emerged from the gunpowder smoke. And he is waiting, too.    

Inspired by the mysterious death of the 17th-century minister Robert Kirke and set in a pivotal era two centuries later when engineering innovation flourished but women did not, The Ninth Child blends folklore with historical realism in a spell-binding narrative.  

©2020 Sally Magnusson (P)2020 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Critic reviews

"I'm hooked.... It's wonderful. One never messes with the faeries." (Melanie Reid, The Times)

"Few books have this impact on me." (Michelle Gallen, Big Girl Small Town)

What listeners say about The Ninth Child

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Excellent production - an elegant tale

Tipping my hat to the narrators + the production first and foremost.

This is a tale worth the telling and Sally Magnusson continues to appeal with her latest novel of intrigue.

Kirsty was my favourite character and was so wonderfully brought to life in this audio version, as were all of the characters.

Combining folklore and tradition, the tale also retells a historical event and gives good insight into the social conditions and inequalities of mid 19th century Scotland - so many parallels with today, truth be told.

I was disappointed that it had to end - it was so enjoyable.

(My only niggle is to say I’d happily have done without the first person contribution of the Prince in favour of time given over to any of the other characters. A plot intrigue, I understand, but not necessary to my mind. Haven’t we enough written about the monarchy?)

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Fact and folklore beautifully blended.

I loved this book historically accurate and practical but strangely magical, haunting and beautifully narrated by the cast.

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Excellent all round

This was a powerful historical novel blending Scottish folklore and actual historical events. Very atmospheric and beautifully narrated

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screw you, Robert Kirk

fine! female narrators were great. didn't love the styling of the Robert Kirk sections. story was a tad over ambitious but overall I liked

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Wonderful

fascinating characters brought to life by excellent narration. First audio book to make me cry!

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Creepy !

Loved this book with its background of the building of Glasgow's water supply. Narration was excellent, especially "Kirsty". Most gripping ending !!

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  • 11-01-21

Really enjoyed this

Well written, very clear and imaginative blending of history, public health initiatives and more and Highland folklore. The audio performances were superb.

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Enchanting

A beautiful, enchanting story expertly told by wonderful narrators. I love Sally Magnusson’s work. It always keeps me enthralled til the very last word.

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Mesmerising

A truly stunning tale and read so beautifully. This book has become my favourite book of all time.

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Love, foreboding & that's just me!

I found the story enthralling, love, misunderstanding, tragedy, grief; like life itself, all came . . .