bookish posts

Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in Wales and Scotland

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

Oh, friends, this was a hard topic, because there are so many possibilities. WWII! The UK! Eastern Europe! Boarding schools! Colleges! The American Midwest! But in the end, I decided to go with a split list: five books set in Wales, and five books set in Scotland. Why Wales & Scotland? Because I’ve been fascinated with both for a long time, plus that makes it more interesting than just the UK.


1. The Grey King, by Susan Cooper: This is the book that started my interest in, and by interest in I mean complete obsession with, Wales.

2. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman: Highly recommended start to a trilogy about Llywelyn Fawr and his family. However, be warned! This book may make you sob. I also found that I got mad at Prince Charles every time I saw or heard his title which, poor man, he probably doesn’t deserve.

3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Okay, most of the story takes place in a fairy tale land called Ingary, but Howl is from Wales! He and Sophie visit! It counts.

4. Among Others by Jo Walton: Mori is in England for quite a bit of the book, but Wales remains central to her identity. And the big showdown takes place in Wales. Also that beautiful opening. And now I really want to re-read.

5. The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff: I love the Lantern Bearers so much, and Aquila’s time with Ambrosius and his men all takes place in Wales.

6. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson: I’m sorry, but this list could not possibly be completely without David Balfour and his adventures around the Highlands and Lowlands. Plus Alan Breck Stewart.

7. Bonnie Dundee by Rosemary Sutcliff: Sutcliff makes her second appearance on this list, with the completely heartbreaking and tragic story of John Graham, Viscount of Dundee. But also wonderfully written, because Sutcliff is so good at historical fiction.

8. The Gil Cunningham Series by Pat McIntosh: Historical mysteries set in medieval Glasgow. I can’t speak to the accuracy, but they’re one of my favorite mystery series, with some great characters and lots of adventure.

9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: I’m sure everyone is sick of me sticking CNV on my TTT lists, but in this case it’s not even a stretch. Craig Castle, Castle Craig is one of the most important places in the whole book, even though {SPOILER, HIGHLIGHT TO SEE} Julie and Maddie are never there together{END SPOILER}.

10. The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson: I was a tad disappointed in the sequel, but The Explosionist has alternate history, a wonderful main character and an absolutely marvelous sense of place. An Edinburgh in 1938 that’s not quite our world? Sign me up.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

19 replies on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in Wales and Scotland”

Love the setting you chose! And the books you chose for the list.

I never read The Explosionist because I heard the sequel was disappointing. Is it worth reading anyway?

I think so? I really should go back and read it again–it’s been a long time and I know my overall reaction is colored by not liking the sequel as well. But I remember loving the first book, so it might be worth reading it as a standalone.

Yes, the film is lovely but quite different, and I prefer the book (not really a surprise). Thanks for the comment!

I don’t think I could’ve come up with 10 books set in Wales or Scotland… even if I were counting books I hated (and that would include The Explosionist… ugh). The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Wales) and The Puzzle Ring (Scotland).

I’m glad you included Howl’s Moving Castle. Yes, Sophie and Howl did visit! It was one of my favourite bits in the book, and I hated that that whole plotline was left out of the movie.

Yes, I thought of Miss Peregrine’s Home, but it wasn’t my favorite so I didn’t put it on.

The movie of HMC was okay, but the book is so much better, IMO. Miyazaki changed so much, especially towards the end.

Oh, yes! Dur. But I think I do like the five on here more, so it would have to be on a secondary list. Which I am not motivated enough to make…

Well, yes. 🙂 And you know, I do love it a lot.

The fact that you included CNV is great. & Scotland and Wales is a great setting! Same with UK. And boarding schools would have been great to see as well! Nice list 😀

Thanks for the comment! I feel like I include CNV every single time, but oh well. 🙂

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