Author Elizabeth Laird
Release Date April 18, 2011
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.
Gems: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is a Christian historical fiction novel that was inspired by family research. Certain extra characters in the story derive from actual people connected with the author's family and include historical details discovered at the location. The most fascinating is knowing Hugh Blair was an actual historical person. The journey begins and ends with Maggie. Given my own experience with tracing my family tree, I can appreciate the journey a person goes on and the self discovery and connections ancestral research provides. A sense of self, ownership and independence is often gained through finding out who and what came before us. I liked the different prospectives of faith presented: strength, doubt and ignorance. Whether it is 1680 or 2011, people all around the world can relate to this timeless struggle.
Towards the end of the story Maggie contemplates, "Which was the worse fate? Banishment and slavery, or shame?" For me this was the most important over all question and the moral of the story. For Hugh Blair it is likely shame, for Maggie and those accused of witchcraft one might argue death and banishment and for Tam, perhaps, being enslaved since he was a wandered. Then, again at some stage of the journey Maggie must face all three and overcome it. Recommend to readers who enjoy Christian historical fiction and young adult historical fiction (PG). Clean read.
Flaws: The blurb claims the book has a, 'powerful blend of heart-stopping action..." I would say this is a reach on the publishers part and is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of what a reader will experience between the pages. When broken down, what the character goes through is extraordinary, but it is told in a kind of Scottish gray that clings with despair even to the most thrilling parts, dampening the possible suspense that might be generated. However, I believe the tone and voice is thematically well-depicted, I just do not think it is agreeable with the blurb statement presented in the synopsis. I'm afraid it might mislead some readers who are seeking a more excitable tale or thrill and evoke negative feedback. This is more a long historical meandering than a coaster of adventure.
* ARC provided courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Books through Net Galley