Thursday Doors – A visit to Eilean Donan Castle and my review of Knuckleheads by Daniel Antion #Scotland #Castle #Bookreview

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

During my trip to Scotland in September 2019, I visited Eilean Donan Castle. It is a lovely castle with a fascinating history. In particular, it was destroyed in 1719.

This is the information I found about the castle’s destruction:

“In 1719 the castle was garrisoned by 46 Spanish soldiers who were supporting the Jacobites. They had established a magazine of gunpowder, and were awaiting the delivery of weapons and cannon from Spain. The English Government caught wind of the intended uprising and sent three heavily armed frigates The Flamborough, The Worcester, and The Enterprise to quell matters. The bombardment of the castle lasted three days, though met with limited success due to the enormity of the castle walls, which in some places are up to 14 feet thick. Finally, Captain Herdman of The Enterprise sent his men ashore and over-whelmed the Spanish defenders. Following the surrender, the government troops discovered the magazine of 343 barrels of gunpowder which was then used to blow up what had remained from the bombardment…

For the best part of 200 years, the stark ruins of Eilean Donan lay neglected, abandoned and open to the elements, until Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911. Along with his Clerk of Works, Farquar Macrae, he dedicated the next 20 years of his life to the reconstruction of Eilean Donan, restoring her to her former glory. The castle was rebuilt according to the surviving ground plan of earlier phases and was formally completed in the July of 1932.”

You can read more about it here:

Here is a picture of the bridge we crossed to get to the castle:

Here are some pictures of the castle and its doors:

The bombardment re-enactment:

Knuckleheads by Daniel Antion

What Amazon says

Zach and Billy didn’t ask for the paranormal powers that were beyond their capacity to understand, or control. Zach, interacting with his lucid dreams, and Billy, “gifted “with shadowy glimpses of the future struggle to make sense of the world around them. Adults in authority in the nineteen sixties have no time for what they consider mental outliers of the baby-boom.

The boys are institutionalized, marginalized, and ignored. Zach’s father learns of the challenges they face as children and knows the dangers they will face as adults. With no way to comprehend how these boys perceive and move within their world, he must find a way to guide them.

If you like speculative fiction with a touch of technology, humanity and a bit of sarcasm shared among men, you will enjoy this book.

My review

This book is an interesting coming of age story about two boys growing up in Pittsburg. Zach and Billy appear to live ordinary lives going to school, doing chores at home, and holding down part-time jobs, but they both have extraordinary abilities. Zach has vivid dreams about places he has visited and is able, over time and through practice, to participate in his dreams in a very real way. Billy is able to see the future, not in a clear and exact way, but he has strong feelings about what is going to happen to people. Zach is able to hide his ability to a large extent, although he does have a bad interlude at school due to a slip up on his part, but Billy is weighed down by his gift and his odd behaviour earns him the label ‘retard’ during a time when little slack was cut to students who did not fit the ‘average’ mould in the school environment.

Knuckleheads delves deeply into everyday life in an American city and gives insight into relationships and interactions in the church, at school and, as Zach’s father owns a bowling alley and part of the story is set there, it also provides an overview of this popular form of entertainment at that point in time. Even the pitfalls of owning a building and the trials and tribulations of difficult customers and the legal system are explored and I found it fascinating.

The style of writing of this book is also unusual in that the entire story comprises a series of conversations between the older, retired Zach and his daughter, Abbie. Abbie is engaged in the conversation about her father’s childhood and unusual gift and asks lots of questions, the answers to which move the story along nicely and provide additional details. There are a few interesting aspects to the relationships in this story. One is that Abbie’s deceased mother, Ronnie, Zach’s former wife, plays a small role in this novel. Zach has a strong relationship with his daughter and Abbie doesn’t seem to feel emotionally deprived by not having a mother figure in her life. My distinct impression was that Zach had filled the hole left by the death of his wife very well. The second, is that Zach’s father plays the role of confidant and nurturer to his son as he learns to control his ability. In fact, Zach’s father fills this role for Billy too after his mother dies and his grandparents become to old to cope with his perceived strangeness. I thought this was a rather unique take on relationships between fathers and their children.

This is a character driven book and it was entertaining and fulfilling to watch the two boys, Zach and Billy, adapt to their unusual situations and learn to make the most of life’s opportunities. Both of them end up pursuing careers that are well suited to their needs and emotional and intellectual make-ups.

This is an enjoyable coming of age story with an interesting paranormal twist.

Purchase Knuckleheads by Daniel Antion

Amazon US

Dan Antion Amazon Author Page

74 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – A visit to Eilean Donan Castle and my review of Knuckleheads by Daniel Antion #Scotland #Castle #Bookreview

          1. I have Christine Robertson’s book that I mentioned not too long ago. I need to write a review on it. There might have been some back and forth with Teagan about Dan’s book.

            Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jan, Dan does have a unique style of writing and I enjoyed it. Very fresh and interesting for someone who reads as much a me. British food generally is pretty dull but I always amend the recipes and thus get a hybrid between my hubby and sons more exotic tastes and my parents very plain and dull tastes.


  1. My husband has been to Eilean Donan Castle and brought me a brochure back. I would love to visit it. It has been featured in a couple of movies I believe. Like you, I love places like that. Looking forward to reading Knuckleheads

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lot to blow it up and even more effort to rebuild and restore! Thanks for this wonderful bit of history, Robbie, and for sharing your great review of Dan’s book. Wishing Dan all the best.

    Hugs to you both 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Robbie. This will be a big family trip (18 of us – very odd!). We’ll spend a little time at the beginning and end in Edinburgh, spend a couple of days on Skye, a couple of days in Inverness area and a coupe of days in the Glencoe area. As I said, a big family trip and family = McDonald, so we’ll hit a lot of places important to clan Donald and the Mc/MacDonalds.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Robbie, I enjoyed reading about the history behind the doors. There are a number of castles in Rajasthan too which could not be broken into because of the huge doors and stone walls. It’s nice to see that the overbearing walls serve their purpose.
    Wonderful review of Dan’s book. It makes me want to pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Afraid I zipped past your review, Robbie. One of my quirky habits is I don’t like to read reviews on books that are already on my Kindle. It’s more fun to come back later and see how my review compares to others.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow! Robbie, You have made my heart beat happier today. I always love it when you join us for Thursday Doors, and you must have known I would enjoy the photos and history of Eilean Donan Castle. I even liked the photo of the bridge you crossed.

    Then, to find a lovely review of Knuckleheads tucked into this page. I am overwhelmed. I have often imagined seeing my book in that “What Amazon Says / My Review” contrast. It is wonderful to see your thoughts presented here. I smiled at the things you found interesting and the thoughts you had about the characters.

    Thank you so much. You have made my day so much brighter! I hope you have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Dan, I found you book very interesting and unusual. I see a few of my blogging friends are interested in it, based on the comments. Knuckleheads is a great start to your series and writing career and I look forward to reading more of your books.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry to seem late. I had commented, but my Internet was probably misbehaving…
    Robbie, the castle door are splendid, and so is your review. Congratulations to Dan. Hugs all around.


  7. I love castles. One reason is because it’s hard to destroy them:):) In my mother’s family is for sure a castle, but we started too late with investigating which one it is, in France.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a dream of ours to visit Scotland one day (hubby’s family has Scottish roots) and visit Loch Ness- have you seen it?
    Great review! I have Dan’s book on my Kindle and hope to read it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jacquie, we did visit Lock Ness and it is a very dark and formidable looking body of water. We saw a film in the museum all about the Lock Ness Monster and, of course, I bought a little stuffed monster for myself. We also visited a Whiskey distillery in the area and it was very interesting to learn how Whiskey is made.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love castles, Robbie! Your photos of Eilean Donan Castle are excellent, and I enjoyed learning the history of the destruction and restoration. You did an excellent review of Dan’s book. I love books about relationships and must hurry up to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My father was the only surviving son of the only surviving son of a direct descendant of the chief of the clan. The chieftainship lapsed and the secretary of the clan suggested we apply to counter the bid by the current owners which had come through the female line. The other bid had been accepted and we didn’t want to challenge it. We have a lovely chart drawn up by the secretary of the clan tracing us right back to the start and our children refer to it as ‘our castle’. Shortbread is often sold in tins featuring the castle and we have lots of empty ones now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, what an interesting story. Maybe you should have challenged it although, from what I understood, the current owner who I believe is a woman had to spend a lot of money on the castle to get it into decent shape. I read that somewhere but I can’t remember where.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s cool, isn’t it? My grandfather was city architect for Edinburgh and had no interest in becoming chief of the clan. His brother drew up the family tree and gave it to my father as proof of the lineage. My father was shy, loved his work as a doctor and ignored it. Peter MacRae, the society secretary pointed out that my great great grandfather (the Rev Alexander MacRae) married (Annie MacRae) another direct descendent uniting the Conchra and Inverinate sides of the family. He was very keen for us to challenge for chieftainship but, as you say, it needed a lot of money and attention to look after it – and I’ll bet here’s loads of midges (biting insects) in the summer! It’s always nice to read about it!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Your Eilean Donan Castle history is most fascinating. I love this.
    The pics are fab.
    Nice review of “Knuckleheads”, a novel written by the lovely Dan Anton. I’m lovin’ the title, and it sounds like a good read.
    Thanks Roberta!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Castles are fascinating. I’ve been watching Midsummer Murder mysteries. And some of the old manses and churches have ‘priest’ hideouts. I wonder if this castle was able to restore any of the secret passages if there were any 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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