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
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:
Total Score: 21/25