Published: April 2011
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.
I seem to have been finding a lot of these great books at the library that I missed when they first came out. The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is a wonderfully engaging tale of a 16yr old girl living in 17th C Scotland. It's hard to imagine just how cruel life could be in those times. Adherance to the scriptures was more important than anything else and you could still be hanged for a witch.
One of the things I really loved was that I actually grew up in the area where the book takes place. I have been on a boat from Largs to Rothsay, looked down on Scalpsie Bay and I had a wonderful time remembering the beautiful Scottish countryside as I was reading about it. Of course, I wasn't walking it by myself with no shoes on!
Maggie is a strong but sensible character and it's easy to like her. She's had a really hard life - imagine carrying your shoes with you instead of wearing them, because you are so unused to them.
"I had carried my shoes until we were almost at the church and only remembered to put them on when Nanny whined for me to pick her up and I needed both my hands. The shoes pinched my feet, but I was pleased to be seen in them. I even enjoyed the clatter they made on the kirk's stone floor."
It's easy to fall completely into Maggie's world and to feel for her during her hardships. With all the persecution and bad conditions it made me extremely glad to be living now and not then. Betrayal is an enjoyable and fairly quick read that will be great for historical fans.
On a side note - what's with the weirdness on the cover? It took me a few moments to realise what it is that's wrong with the picture - can you tell?