#42 of 200
Original Language: English
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: April 18 2011
ISBN: 0547341261Page Count: 360
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is due to be released on April 18 2011
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair (also published as The Witching Hour) is the latest novel by popular children's and young adult author Elizabeth Laird. A stunning story of witchcraft, religion and belief, The Betrayal of Maggie Blair will keep you on the edge of your seat, eagerly awaiting poor Maggie's next obstacle.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.
Laird has created a simple but passionate narrator in Maggie. Honest, sweet and determined, she is the sort of protagonist that keeps her readers worried. Maggie is a simple girl, blemished by the 'taint' of her Grandmothers supposed witchcraft, and then by her Uncles religious piousness. By making her so sincere, Laird directs the readers sympathies and suspicions through Maggie, keeping them involved and interested.
There are two very distinct halves to The Betrayal of Maggie Blair. The first is the witches trial, where Maggie and her Grandmother are sentenced to death. Laird creates an atmosphere of fear and distrust, built up by a mob conciousness and a desire to place the blame on others. She even turns the tables on the spectators, allowing them time to mourn their decision to harm Maggie. The beginning half of the story is frightening and gut wrenching, as the reader struggles to see a way out for poor Maggie.
In the second half, Maggie journeys to her see her Uncle Blair, a religious fanatic, desperate to throw off the controlling hand of the King. The Covenant struggle is a very different conflict to the witches trial, yet Laird brings the two together with ease. Both place innocents (as well as the guilty) in the way of death, allowing their prejudice to overcome their good sense.
A simple story The Betrayal of Maggie Blair tackles complicated issues. I could have done with more background to the religious struggle, and understood more about Maggie's link to her Grandmother's witchcraft, but overall Laird has created a beguiling tale.
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