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  • Location: Edinburgh, St Andrews, Scotland

The Ghost Tree

The Ghost Tree

Why a Booktrail?

1760s onwards, 2000s: A remarkable story inspired by Barbara Erskine’s own personal history

  • ISBN: 978-0008195816
  • Genre: Ghost/supernatural, Historical, Inspired by true events

What you need to know before your trail

Ruth has returned to Edinburgh after many years of exile. Left rootless by the death of her estranged father, she is faced with the daunting task of sorting through his possessions. Amidst the dust of her old life, Ruth discovers a hidden diary from the eighteenth century, written by her ancestor, Thomas Erskine. As she sifts through the ancient pages of the past, Ruth is pulled into a story that she can’t escape.

As the youngest son of a noble family Thomas’ life started in genteel poverty, but his extraordinary experiences propel him from the high seas to Lord Chancellor. Yet, on his journey through life, he makes a powerful enemy who hounds him to the death – and beyond.

Ruth has opened a door to the past that she can’t close, and meets a ghost in her family tree who wasn’t invited. She will have to draw upon new friends and old in what will become a battle for her very survival…

Travel Guide


The main part of the story develops here. This is where the two strands come together in the house left behind by Ruth’s father.

It’s the city where she dreams of a boy from times gone by. A past life?

Edinburgh is the ideal city to be evoked in two time periods. Its gothic brilliance is similar but with modern edges in Ruth’s time. However the cobbles, the busy chaotic streets, the market traders and the grandiose buildings such as the old St Giles and Grays’ Close beside the great castle cast their shadow from history into the present.

The Earl of Buchan

Barbara Erskine was heavily inspired by her very own great great great great great grandfather Thomas who appears in the story as himself. He came from a wealth family and became one of the greatest barristers of his time, was involved with thte anti-slavery bill and animal welfare. He married Sarah who was herself an enigma and they ended up with more than 26 grandchildren. Plenty of history in real life too!

The Mormaer or Earl of Buchan was originally the provincial ruler of the medieval province of Buchan. Buchan was the first Mormaerdom in the High Medieval Kingdom of the Scots to pass into the hands of a non-Scottish family in the male line.

Present holder: Malcolm Erskine, 17th Earl

The story also visits Jamaica and Barbados where certain characters live on board a ship for a while but these are fleeting visits.

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

A fascinating read and even more so when you realise that it’s very heavily influenced and in places based on the real story of the author’s own family.
It’s like a literary version of Who Do You Think I Am – just when you think there’s enough twists and turns in the story, there come some more.

The dual time lines of the past and present are nicely done and flow with ease. I always seem to prefer the stories of the past and I do think this was the strongest one as we travelled to St andrews, Bath, and then across the open seas to Barbados and Jamaica as the backstory of one of the characters is slowly built and crafted.

At the same time of course, Erskine cleverly weaves a story set in present day Edinburgh where a woman is having visions and dreams of someone from a past life. She’s been left a house and now someone else is laying claim to it. Brr I shivered from the first page; there’s something delicious about tracing the shadows of history.

And this is heavily inspired by the author’s family – just how I will leave you to find out, but it’s one heck of a story and Erskine is a name which has had quite the path through history! Don’t google anything until you’ve read the novel – just enjoy and anticipate that shiver down your spine.

Barbara Erskine has crafted a story, a legend and a family history all at once and I can only imagine the emotional journey she took with this one! Now, it’s time for the readers to do the same.

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Ghost Tree

Destination : Edinburgh, St Andrews, Scotland, Carribean  Author/Guide: Barbara Erskine  Departure Time:1760s, 2000s

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