Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

Title: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Author: Elizabeth Laird
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
e-ARC, 420 pages (Via Netgalley)
Date Published: April 18, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
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.
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is nothing like what I would have expected it to be. It sounds like it’s a paranormal book with witches and the like, but it’s much more a historical take on a girl accused of being a witch and the lengths she goes to to save her own life, and later discover who she is.

Maggie Blair starts off as being a shy, meager girl, but her growth is astounding. By the end of the book, she is far stronger and more independent than I ever would have imagined. Her journey to get there is full of ups and downs (mostly downs), yet she somehow perseveres through everything. Throughout the entire book, the religiosity of the times is ever-present. Maggie isn’t a very religious person, in a very religious time. She’s not sure if she even believes that God has any hand in what goes on in her life. Her beliefs are much baser, going off of her emotions and what she knows to be true.

It’s hard not to feel for Maggie, with all of her losses. Her worst times are backed by some stellar secondary characters though. Tam, a piper and an old friend of Maggie’s family, turned out to be so much more than I thought he’d be. Maggie’s Uncle Blair is also quite the striking man, as well. Then there’s Annie, who made me want to reach back and give her a good, solid punch in the nose. If a character can incite that much feeling from me, then it’s always a good thing.

All that being sad, The Betrayal of Maggie Blair does start off very slow. The elegant language held me long enough though, and once things started happening with Maggie and her Granny, I couldn’t turn away. The story lulls quite a bit in the middle as well, but Maggie’s story is one to stick with.

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is based in part on the author’s own seventeenth century Scottish family. Elizabeth Laird has been able to create the character of Maggie and give her this vivacious family that jumps off the pages. While I expected more paranormal, this almost fact-based tale of a girl making her way in a world that doesn’t exactly accept her, surprised me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Opening line: I was the first one to see the dead whale lying on the sand at Scalpsie Bay. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines:
I wasn’t sure now what I’d meant or what had happened to me. I only knew that I’d felt something miraculous at the time, and that a glow, like the last pink streaks of a sunset, still lit something inside me. ~ pg. 278

*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Elizabeth Laird online:

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Shannon the BookStalker said...

I just bought an ARC of this from my local library's book sale and now thanks to your wonderful review I plan to read it much sooner then I was planning.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

The cover alone makes me want to read this, and your review just sealed the deal!

~The Book Pixie said...

This was on my Top 20 Most Wanted in 2011 list and I think I'm going to enjoy it. So cool that it is partly based on her family! Did not know that before. Lovely review. :D


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