The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

Secrets of the Shetlands, book 1
Category: Christian fiction, historical fiction, literature/fiction
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Format: advanced reader ebook (eARC)
My Rating: 4-stars


The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control. 

While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island--and its traditional way of life--hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.


Like Davis Bunn a.k.a. Thomas Locke I have been reading Michael Phillips' books since my early teen years and Phillips has always been a favorite author of mine.  Unfortunately, I haven’t picked up one of his novels in a very long time and that is to my detriment. Phillips has a quality that I honestly cannot explain.  I have felt this way about his books since I was a teen.  As a book reviewer I know it isn’t very helpful that I can't name or even really explain what that quality is.  Sorry about that!  The closest that I can get to an explanation is that his characters are more thoughtful, more fully understandable, deeper and richer than the norm.  In the books description Phillips is called a master storyteller.  That sums it up.  Do you feel the same way about his books?  Can you explain it?  

A great part of the joy of reading for me is learning new things.  The Inheritance introduced me to the Shetland Islands, an area of Scotland that I am unfamiliar with.  It was interesting to learn of the joint Scottish and Norse heritage in the Shetlands.  Phillips also introduced me to the song Leaving Lerwick Harbour.  It is beautiful.  A bit haunting yet peaceful.

The Inheritance is a story of clashing times and forces.  History verses modernity.  Selflessness verses selfishness.  Self-understanding verses a lack of identity.  Kindness verses unkindness.  There is a moment towards the end of The Inheritance when all of the mysteries and events are converging.  Following is a quote describing the Whale’s Reef church steeple.

The quote speaks to the essence of the book.  History, heritage, respect, and most importantly reverence of God are valuable and worth seeking and sharing.

In a location such as this, where sea mists, driving rains, and incessant winds were the norm, a steeple must be strongly anchored to keep from being battered to bits. This one was. It had survived, with repairs, for three centuries. Its topmost spire, however, was often shrouded in fog or slanting torrents, thus providing an even more fitting symbol of that unknowable and veiled Presence to whom it pointed. Its disappearance into the nebulous unseen heavens, even if only fifty feet above the ground, created a numinous aura of mystery in keeping with its avowed purpose.

My favorite character in The Inheritance wins by a landslide.  He is a chauffeur by trade and a minister by calling named Dickie Sinclair.  Dickie is colorful, truthful, and wise.  He has a short part but his impact is long-lasting.

Phillips paints beautiful scenery.  His descriptions of the Shetland Islands and the community of Whales Reef in particular are very detailed and lovely.  He shows the value and an understanding of the culture and history of the island. The Inheritance extolls the blessings to be found in a families heritage that I find distinctly lacking in America.  I know that I am much the poorer for it.  

The Inheritance is definitely not a stand alone book.  I love the story but the ending was abrupt.  As was intended you are left waiting impatiently for book two.  Fortunately the sequel, The Cottage, releases this October.  

As a reviewer for Bethany House Bloggers, I received a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher.