Book Review: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

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.

Release Date:  April 18, 2011
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Age Group:  Young Adult
Pages:  360
Source:  NetGalley

This book was a somewhat slow starter for me, but once I got going, I really enjoyed it!  It was a longer YA read, which was a little daunting at first but in the end I appreciated the length. 

Maggie is an orphan who lives in absolute poverty with her grandmother.  She scavenges for food and driftwood along the bay every day.  Maggie's grandmother is hated by most of the townspeople for her gruff attitude and quickness with an unkind word or even curse.  By curse, I mean people believed she was actually putting a curse on their lands or family.  Maggie and her grandmother are swept up in the trend of false accusation, and Maggie ends up on the run for her life. 

I've come to find that I really like books about people falsely accused of witchcraft, and The Betrayal of Maggie Blair was no exception.  One thing that really struck me about this book was the daily struggle to survive.  I love reading about people's daily lives in historical fiction, and Elizabeth Laird fleshes out this aspect to the story very well.  I found myself imagining what it would have been like to live in the 1600's: wearing shoes only in church, getting one new dress a year, not bathing regularly, no electricity, etc.  Maggie lives on the fringes of society and barely scrapes by.  She regularly goes to bed hungry, but always stays positive and makes the best out of things.

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.  I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Laird's work in the future.

Just One Gripe:
The slow start.  There was a lot of world-building at the beginning.

The Best Thing About This Book:
Maggie's growth.  She defines herself as a person on her own, and doesn't rely on getting married or anyone else to survive. 

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 5/5
Total Score:  21/25


  1. Yay! Awesome review! Despite the slow start, I'm dying to read this...I might just request it from Netgalley after all! :D

  2. Fabulous review Kelli, I'm really excited to read this one! I'm always fascinated by stories where people are accused of witchcraft as well, and despite the slow start it sounds like a great story. Definitely adding it to my NetGalley list!

  3. Yay! I requested this title from Netgalley and I can't wait to read it now after reading your review. Thanks, Kelli!

  4. Thanks for a great review, haven't read a Historical fiction in a long time.

  5. Sounds great. Thanks for the warning about the start.

  6. I probably would give up on it with the slow start so good to know it's worth it. Thanks!

  7. You have the most interesting way of extending my reading world with books that make me say "Where do I get this one?"

    My hubby cringes since he knows that I'll be looking for this one next... albeit no space left in the house.. the book will be be bought! Sorry hubby... must read :)

  8. This sounds really good. I'm in luck, it is still available on Net Galley.

    Net Galley is so addictive, don't you agree?


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