The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Author: Elizabeth Laird
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin books for Children
Publication Date: April 18, 2011
Source: E-galley requested from netgalley
About the Book: In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.
Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.
Originally published in the UK, this book has a powerful blend of heart-stopping action and thought-provoking themes.
My Thoughts: I was super excited to see this title on netgalley because it’s one I’d been seeing other people mention and it sounded interesting. It took me a good 75 to 100 pages to really hit the groove of the story. I think this had more to do with my expectations than the book itself. From the description this book is clearly historical fiction. For some reason I expected more fantasy as well. I kept waiting for something “fantastical” to happen. As soon as I realized that it wasn’t a fantasy novel I was able to get in to the story and I liked it much more. The pacing and build up that would have been all wrong in a fantasy novel were well executed for this historical fiction.
I found Maggie’s plight incredibly interesting. I wanted to know what happened to her and if she was ever able to find some peace. Seventeenth-century Scotland was an unstable and dangerous place. The political and religious climates were fraught with tension. There were so many missteps one could make that could land them in serious trouble. Poor Maggie is just so lost and out of her element! In the beginning I thought she was very weak but she is a character that really finds herself throughout the story. By the end she has shown her courage and determination time and time again. She really grew on me.
This tale is partially based on actual events and members of the authors family. I loved knowing this and kind of wished the note about it had been at the beginning of the book. I think I may have gotten more out of it that way. I like history and enjoy this time period but I found myself skimming some sections because I was getting impatient to find out what happens. Overall I enjoyed the read but it’s not for everyone. It’s fairly long and there are a lot of details and historical anecdotes that may not appeal to all. If you enjoy history and reading about what life was like “back then” I would certainly recommend The Betrayal of Maggie Blair.
Sidenote: Anyone else find the line in the summary, “Betrayed by one of her own accusers…” awkward? “Betrayed by one of her trusted friends” or “Betrayed by one of her own family members” or something like that makes sense to me. I guess I just figure you expect an accuser to betray someone so when you say, “Betrayed by one of her own accusers” I think… well, duh!