The best books about the Scottish Highlands

8 authors have picked their favorite books about the Scottish Highlands and why they recommend each book.

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A Heart in the Right Place

By Heide Goody, Iain Grant,

Book cover of A Heart in the Right Place

An action-comedy that surpasses their classic Clovenhoof series. Based around an attempt to plan a weekend away so many twists and turns are added that you wonder where the authors get their imagination from. When assassins and werewolves appear you can't help but keep turning the pages.


Who am I?

I am a freelance anatomy educator, artist, author, mother, and dog owner. I like to fill my time by engaging the public with science, meeting them where they are and exploring their boundaries. If they are interested in zombies, or flying unicorns then let's start there and mix fantasy and reality to make them think.


I wrote...

The Lama Drama 2019 (The 3rd Sphere)

By Janet Philp,

Book cover of The Lama Drama 2019 (The 3rd Sphere)

What is my book about?

My book intertwines reality and fantasy in a genre I like to call ‘what if’ or ‘I wonder’ (I think it is officially urban fantasy). I take the reality of every day and add a twist; what if it were like this, with the hope that the readers will ask ‘I wonder.’

The story starts when Jayne dies and realises that not everyone on earth is as full of life as she thought and maybe in the fight between good and evil it's not obvious who is on which side.

The Hunting Party

By Lucy Foley,

Book cover of The Hunting Party

Like any good “locked room” murder mystery, the tone of The Hunting Party is insular and claustrophobic. It begins with a group of old friends snowed in at a cabin in the woods in the Scottish Highlands. Not long into the story, one of the friends dies under suspicious circumstances and it’s up to you, the reader, to figure out who among the group is the murderer. I was hooked from beginning to end by this fast-paced, tense tale and, as always, was enthralled by Foley’s sharp prose.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a reader of classic crime fiction, but it was only when I became an author that I fell in love with the “locked room” premise. There’s just something so sinister about a closed setting where a small group of suspects and potential victims are bound by the facets of an “impossible murder”. Whether it be a snowed-in cabin, a sinister manor house, a grand hotel, a ship, a train, or in the case of my own book — Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder — an underground labyrinth, I always feel that the atmosphere of claustrophobia adds to the suspense and mystery of these brilliant tales.

I wrote...

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

By T.A. Willberg,

Book cover of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

What is my book about?

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death is the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Wishing for a Highlander

By Jessi Gage,

Book cover of Wishing for a Highlander

I know this is 'another’ Scottish time travel historical romance – but I’d been looking for a novel in this genre and this one was great. There are also touches of humor throughout that were reminiscent of Gabaldon’s writing style. Single and pregnant (yes pregnant!) museum-worker, Melanie gets transported to 16th Century Scotland when she examines an ancient wooden box. There, she meets Darcy – a brave yet innocent young man who becomes her unlikely protector when she’s accused of witchcraft. This novel grips you from the first page. Gage evokes the setting and time period brilliantly, and the romance is realistically portrayed and emotional. 


Who am I?

I’ve always had a fascination with the past. After graduating with an Honors degree in English Literature, with a minor in History, I spent years working as an English Language Teacher, while I wrote stories in my free time. Writing is a compulsion for me. It’s my escape and entertainment – my solace in tough times. Now, as a full-time author, I’m lucky enough to get to spend my days in Ancient and Medieval Scotland. I write the kind of stories I love to read: with vibrant characters, richly researched settings, and action-packed adventure romance that transports readers to forgotten times and imaginary worlds.


I wrote...

Highlander Deceived: A Medieval Scottish Romance

By Jayne Castel,

Book cover of Highlander Deceived: A Medieval Scottish Romance

What is my book about?

Highlander Deceived is an emotional historical romance set in Medieval Scotland. When Keira Gunn agrees to swap places with her best friend, and weds a man in her stead, she knows life is about to get complicated. But Keira never wanted to be a nun, and longs for a life outside the nunnery where she’s about to take her vows. Her friend is desperate—and this could be Keira’s only chance to forge a new path for herself. 

The Mackays of Farr have a new chieftain. Connor Mackay is a reluctant husband, yet he’s been betrothed for years. Now he needs to honor his promise. However, his bride keeps a secret that risks more than both their hearts.

Single Malt Murder

By Melinda Mullet,

Book cover of Single Malt Murder

This is the first in the Whisky Business Mystery series. I loved this series and was sad to see it end. I swear I know at least two of the characters personally. There is enough romance to make this romance reader happy but there was also a great murder mystery sprinkled—or should I say—splattered with humor. I loved it.

Who am I?

I love everything Scottish. My grandfather was Scottish. I never met him, but mom passed the pride of her heritage and culture to me. Mom used to throw out an occasional phrase or poem that I thought was Gaelic. (I later learned it was Scotts but that’s another story.) I decided I wanted to learn the language and found a short course at a small college on the Isle of Skye and it changed my life. After that short course I committed to learning the language and enrolled in the distance learning program. I travel to Skye for the short courses between my semesters and have made lifelong friends.  


I wrote...

Hickville Crossroads: A Hickville High Novel

By Mary Karlik,

Book cover of Hickville Crossroads: A Hickville High Novel

What is my book about?

Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star. So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules: No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.

Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Things come to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids. Can Frasier convince Jenna that shy, goofy Ethan Smith is closer to reality than the image the tabloids have created?

Pine

By Toon Francine,

Book cover of Pine

Ghost stories thrive on limited viewpoints, but does the child at the centre of this novel see more clearly than others? Set against the bleak backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, 10-year-old Lauren wonders about the mysterious woman who keeps appearing to her and her harrowed dad. Especially as it is only Lauren who ever seems to remember her. Sad, creepy, and thoroughly recommended.


Who am I?

I’ve loved horror books and films since I was a boy, staying up late at the weekend to watch all those Hammer classics. Ghost stories are a favourite and many of the best – except those where the ghosts are pure evil – are all about the mystery. What horror was visited on this spirit to make it return and haunt the living? The process of finding out must be elusive, suggestive, mysterious – and leave you that little bit less certain all is well when you go through the house switching off the lights last thing at night. All these books surely do that.


I wrote...

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood: A Ghost Story

By Steve Griffin,

Book cover of The Boy in the Burgundy Hood: A Ghost Story

What is my book about?

Alice Deaton can’t believe her luck when she lands a new post at a medieval English manor house. Mired in debt, the elderly owners have transferred their beloved Bramley to a heritage trust. Alice must prepare it for opening to the public in the spring, with the former owners relegated to a private wing. But when the ghosts start appearing - the woman with the wounded hand and the boy in the burgundy hood - Alice realises why her predecessor might have left the isolated house so soon.

As she peels back the layers of the mystery, the secrets Alice uncovers haunting Bramley’s heart will be dark - darker than she could ever have imagined...

The Turn of the Key

By Ruth Ware,

Book cover of The Turn of the Key

I’m a huge Ruth Ware fan—I’ve read and loved all of her books—but this one sticks out to me as one of the best, and part of it is because of the creepiness factor. When I read this book, I truly felt like I was in that house with the main character Rowan, hearing those terrifying noises, discovering the hidden room, and exploring the treacherous garden—and it made for an incredibly thrilling reading experience.


Who am I?

I’ve always been captivated by dark stories—from my teen years watching my favorite creepy show, The X-Files, to now as an adult writing my own thrilling stories. What really draws me to these stories of darkness are the flickers of light they inevitably contain—the love between characters; the growth when characters find their strength after enduring difficult times; and ultimately, the hope they can find even when all seems lost. To me, finding your way through the darkness and into the light—and getting creeped out along the way—makes for the best kind of story, and it’s the kind I strive to write as an author.


I wrote...

Iris in the Dark

By Elissa Grossell Dickey,

Book cover of Iris in the Dark

What is my book about?

Iris in the Dark is the story of an overprotective single mother who must face her worst fear—the past. When Iris is entrusted to house-sit at a lodge on the South Dakota prairie, she thinks she’s prepared for anything. But late one night, she hears a chilling cry for help coming from a walkie-talkie buried in a box of toys. As the calls get more desperate, personal, and menacing, Iris realizes the person on the other end isn’t reaching out for help. They’re reaching out to terrorize her. Now the only way for Iris to move forward in life is to confront the past she’s been running from…a threat that has now followed her into the dark.

The Highland Fling

By Meghan Quinn,

Book cover of The Highland Fling

Bonnie needs a second chance at life. Nothing says “starting over” like packing up your life and moving across the Atlantic to answer a help-wanted ad for a barista in Scotland. Why not? It’s not like Bonnie wasn’t just fired from her third job in a row and has anything else going on. She just wants another chance at doing life right and not feeling like a failure. Her high hopes are immediately challenged by grumpy handyman Rowan. This is a great opposites attract read, full of wit and humor. You’ll be charmed by the end and ready to book a trip to Scotland.


Who am I?

I’ve been an incurable romantic for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I was in middle school, my friends and I started writing what would now be considered novellas. We would write our stories during class and trade notebooks in the hallways between bells. That is until I was caught writing one of my opuses in pre-algebra. There was nothing like the dopamine hit of writing those first stories that would deter me! The characters in my head grew up as I did and I found myself passionate about the telling of second chances in life and in love. 


I wrote...

The Final Piece

By Maggi Myers,

Book cover of The Final Piece

What is my book about?

Beth Bradshaw has spent her life hiding from her tragic past. From the moment a trusted family friend steals her innocence until the moment another rescues her, she struggles to just survive. Beth embarks on a journey of healing far from the horrors of her home. In her darkest moments, she meets a boy named Ryan. For one incredible summer, Ryan shows Beth what it’s like to act her own age. To feel free and let go.

Years later, another tragedy threatens to shatter the life Beth has carefully crafted. She sets forth on a pilgrimage that will bring her back to the boy she could never forget. He wants to help her pick up the pieces, but is she willing to do what it takes to become whole again?

The Ghost in the Machine

By Barbara Lennox,

Book cover of The Ghost in the Machine: Poems of Love, Loss, Life and Death

What makes Scottish poet Barbara Lennox so special is her ability to draw on her scientific background, striking an exquisite balance between a mechanistic view of nature and a more mysterious, creative approach. I love poems about birds and flight and her poems about an owl ("ears inhale every sound"), hawk ("she’s light/ ready for the off/ half-poised for flight"), and the extinct Archaeopteryx, "smeared to a layer of limestone" are some of the finest written. On top of that, Lennox writes astonishing poems about the Scottish Highlands, where I’ve spent some of my happiest times.


Who am I?

I’ve been writing poems since an inspirational period of study in Stirling in my twenties, when I did a lot of hill walking in the Scottish Highlands. For me, poetry that doesn’t move you, that doesn’t make you feel, is just words on a page. I love poems that make you shiver as they incongruously bear the full load of life’s mystery. I like all kinds of poetry but have a special place reserved for nature poems, poems that find the heart and soul in the landscape, rivers, and wildlife.


I wrote...

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful

By Steve Griffin,

Book cover of The Things We Thought Were Beautiful

What is my book about?

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful includes poems about our changing feelings and connection to nature and the world around us, the beauty and strangeness of travel, and the places we look for meaning. There are also poems that explore the difficulty of living without love, as well as the redemption of home and family.

The Last Wilderness

By Neil Ansell,

Book cover of The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence

There’s a deep poignancy to this book about Ansell’s wanderings in the Rough Bounds where the highlands of Scotland meet the Atlantic in a series of rugged peninsulas, a ‘place apart’ thanks to its remoteness and inaccessibility; not only because it originally inspired his love of nature and being solitary in nature, but also because he’s now losing his hearing, and with it his relationship with the joys of birdsong, which became particularly important to him when he lived alone in a cottage in mid-Wales. The Rough Bounds have been called Britain’s last great wilderness, and yet the area has a long history of settlement, and in some of his walking he explores the gradual depopulation of the Western Highlands, inhabited from ancient prehistory through generations and thriving communities until only a couple of hundred years ago. Instead of being a scientific exploration, it’s meditative and meandering; ‘sometimes a little…


Who am I?

A British writer and editor who developed a love of Greece from childhood holidays and Ancient Greek classes at school, and a passion for hidden and little-known places, I felt myself called back and moved ten years ago to the Dodecanese, a remote and rugged group of islands at the southeast edge of Europe. Wandering on foot around islands whose populations emigrated in their thousands over the last hundred years leaving refuges of wild and quiet, I began to be fascinated by things left behind on the landscape and differences from one island to the next. I explored in this way for five years and wrote the stories in my third book set in Greece, Wild Abandon: A Journey to the Deserted Places of the Dodecanese.


I wrote...

Wild Abandon: A Journey to the Deserted Places of the Dodecanese

By Jen Barclay,

Book cover of Wild Abandon: A Journey to the Deserted Places of the Dodecanese

What is my book about?

A long-term resident of Greece, Jennifer Barclay spent more than four years researching Wild Abandon, visiting islands multiple times, and hearing the stories of local people. She travels from the very west to the very east of the Dodecanese, from the very south almost to the very north, taking in some of the smallest and the biggest islands, and highlighting different stories along the way to show the complex history behind these havens of tranquillity. She discovers a villa intended for Benito Mussolini's retirement, an island that links a gramophone from St Petersburg and a portrait in the American National Gallery via a pack of cigarettes, and reflects on the days when an economy based on sponges and burnt rock supported thousands.

Wild Abandon is an elegy in praise of abandoned places and a search for lost knowledge through the wildest and most deserted locations.

Under the Skin

By Michel Faber,

Book cover of Under the Skin

A bit of a cheat, since the protagonist, Isserley, is actually an alien. But she’s presenting as a woman in the Scottish Highlands, luring male hitchhikers into her red Toyota Corolla. We don’t discover why for quite some time, and when we do, it’s a shocker. The book effortlessly encompasses major themes of difference, injustice, big business, and gender politics without ever being polemical. If you’ve seen the film of the same name, starring Scarlett Johansson, forget it—it’s totally different from the book. Oh, and if you’re not already a vegetarian, this novel might turn you into one. 


Who am I?

Proud to drop the F-bomb—I’m an unrepentant feminist. I grew up during the heady days of the Sixties and Seventies when books played a major part in raising our consciousness. I’m remembering the wonderful Virago Press championing women’s voices, and writers such as Marilyn French, Angela Carter, Maya Angelou, and Maxine Hong Kingston. I’m not keen on books where women are helpless victims or ciphers while men get to do all the exciting stuff. And since real life can be quite grim enough (I was a journalist for over thirty years and remain a news junkie), I’m increasingly attracted by writing that includes a dollop of humour. 


I wrote...

Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Vampire Menace

By Olga Wojtas,

Book cover of Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Vampire Menace

What is my book about?

Fifty-something librarian Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for Muriel Spark’s novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name. 

Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist, and musician, Shona is personally selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for an important mission in fin-de-siècle France. But Shona finds this mission very confusing. Why have so many people been torn to death by wild animals, what are Maman and the mayor up to, and is the reclusive aristocrat in the isolated castle really suffering from toothache?

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