Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: April 18, 2011
Synopsis: 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.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What would you do if every thing that life threw at you was unfortunate, negative, and just unlucky? This story takes place in a small Scottish village placed in the 17th century. God and farming is the way of the land in this small village. Maggie started her life with tragedy early on. Her mother and father died when she was small and young which left her Granny to take care of her. They live in a small, shack-like home unkempt and unfit for a young child. They both tend to their land by themselves and are constantly on the verge of hunger.
Maggie encounters more tragedy when the neighboring farmers accuse Granny of witchcraft, and through association, Maggie as well. In the 17th century, God is law and witchcraft is punishable by death. A small chance sets Maggie free, leaving her alone in the world for the first time. She sets out to meet the only family that she knows and hopes that her life changes for the better. Will she be able to overcome her tragic past and survive it all?
Maggie has had to live through a lot of life experiences in such a short amount of time. No girl, whether being in the 17th century or in the 21st century should have lived through all of that. Maggie experiences death, accusation, hunger, solitude, and betrayal all throughout the book. She quickly learns to grow strong and trust in herself to make the right choices. She encounters people who help her and betray her all while having to survive life and not be killed. In the end, she is a strong woman, who is a fit role model for young women out there.
When I first chose this book, I was drawn in by the cover. Reading the synopsis made me a little more intrigued. What I didn’t expect was the multiple psalms and other biblical references throughout the book. As much as the story progressed a long, and as much as the book’s time frame may have called for it, I felt it was a bit much. There were parts in the book where it seemed to progress slowly due to the biblical and Christian messages the author needed to relay. At times I felt that maybe Maggie wouldn’t have done something or made a certain decision if it wasn’t hindered by a lot of the scripture quotes being thrown her way.
Laird does write well enough to keep me enthralled throughout the book. Despite the misgivings I felt the book had, she kept it interesting enough for me to still look forward what was beyond the next page. I didn’t put the book down once I was really into the book. Laird draws Maggie to be a great role model, strong and brave for any female reader out there. The life lessons she adds through the book are great hints, despite the unfortunate way the events had to happen. I enjoyed Maggie, and I think you will too.