After finishing The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland, a dark supernatural read, I was hoping for a lighter book to continue my R.I.P reading. So I reached for modern classic Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. Since reading The Gabriel Hounds last year I have been longing to read more by Stewart.
This novel swept me off to Austria with Vanessa March and her young charge Timothy Lacy. Vanessa is a married woman on a spur of the moment mission of the heart. While Timothy is a young man seeking freedom and a connection with his long lost father. They’re two people thrown together seeking something, who form an unlikely but sweet friendship. Together they will try to discover what Mr March is really up to, and in the process find themselves embroiled in a dangerous mystery surrounding a travelling circus and the famous Lipizzan stallions of Vienna.
At the beginning of the story we’ve barely been introduced to Vanessa when Stewart hits us with a mystery. Malicious Carmel Lacy, Tim’s overbearing mother, let’s slip that she saw Vanessa’s husband in an Austrian newsreel when he’s meant to be in Sweden. Thus she persuades Vanessa to chaperone her son. I liked Vanessa and Tim. They initially form a friendship of respect and common goals, however they also discover a love of horses. Vanessa is a trained vet and Tim harbours a dream to join the Spanish Riding School in Vienna which also helps them infiltrate the travelling circus and the mystery surrounding a fatal fire. Once fully immersed in the mystery we are introduced to other interesting character including: colourful performers, quaint locals and the secretive Englishman Lee Elliott.
I found this to be another nostalgic mystery from Stewart full of intrigue, secrets, suspicion, lies, betrayal, twists and turns. I think Stewart has a wonderfully comforting style which in cooperates a mixture of suspense, romance, and society issues. I also loved the beautiful descriptions of the Austrian countryside and mountains, the lively circus, the quaint villages and historical castle. And it was fascinating to find out the history and tradition of the Spanish Riding School and their famous Lipizzan stallions, who are trained in the difficult and beautiful moves known as the ‘airs above the ground’.
Airs Above the Ground is a nostalgic suspense set in the beautiful Austrian mountains; a perfect read for Autumn and the R.I.P event. I highly recommend this sadly I have no more of Stewart’s novels on my to-be-read shelf. I will have to look out for more. Great read.
Have you read this? Are you a fan of Mary Stewart?