Release: April 18, 2011
Pages: 432 (hardcover)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
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.
Review: A YA historical novel revolving around religious struggles and unjust accusations, The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is simply an astounding story that will take readers into the past.
Maggie Blair has grown up with her Granny since she was young, after both her parents had untimely deaths. She's a bit timid and unsure of herself, but her growth from point A to point B is immense and obvious. Granny was quite a character, with her stubborn ways and quick, strong wit that were bound to get her in trouble. She's harsh at times, but you can see the love and good heart underneath her rough exterior. Laird's supporting cast are strong and developed, each personality standing out or blending in when they should.
Story-wise, the beginning takes place around the time of Maggie and Granny being accused as witches, with the latter half of the story revolving around Maggie, the Blair family (her father's brother's family), and religious strife taking place town the Blair's live in. The beginning is long, but once Maggie's on the run (and I mean literally on the run from crazy townspeople), you'll be swept away and caught up in her story. Historically, it seemed accurate, and it was interesting to read how quickly the townspeople all believed that someone was a witch, not to mention the troubles revolving around religion at the time. Religious matters are largely featured, but never overly preachy. However, the most enjoyable aspect of the story is Maggie herself, and her coming-of-age as the novel progresses. Her story is full of hard choices, heartbreaking and dangerous moments, and is impossible to set aside.
Filled with love, friendship, and the question of doing what's easy versus what's right, The Betrayal of Maggie Blair will appeal greatly to realistic historical fiction fans.
Highlights: The characters were wonderfully written, especially as the story progressed. From evil Annie (whom I honestly despised, so bravo to Laird) to the members of the Blair family, each one was portrayed uniquely and intrigued me to no end. The setting and time were equally well done, I felt as if I had stepped into the past with each word (and found myself surprised by a few tidbits here and there).
Lowlights: The beginning was very slow going at first (to the point where I almost gave up reading this story), and the story does not really begin until a good amount of pages in. It also really seemed like the first part versus the second part of the story didn't quite mesh well together.