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The Betrayal of Maggie Blair

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic historical fiction

    Before I gush about why I loved this book, I just need to say that I love the cover. From a photography standpoint, the photo is spectacular; the silhouette of the girl, against the expansive background and cloudy sky, with her reflection in the's gorgeous! I also love the title, which fits the book perfectly.

    Now, about the book: I think the strongest point of The Betrayal of Maggie Blair, is that it features a set of strong characters. Maggie is a great character, who doesn't always know what to do, or how to stand up for herself. She does know what is right and wrong, though, and this knowledge helps her to do what needs to be done in the story. She constantly pushes herself to do what she knows is right, even if doing so puts her in a bad position.

    Maggie's grandmother is quite the character, at times giving meaning to the phrase "old hag." But even she has a depth to her that shows you why she seems a little rough. Other characters like Tam, Annie, and Hugh Blair, are all given extreme personalities, but are developed well enough that you believe them.

    The Blair family was especially interesting to read about. They are what seemed like an accurate depiction of a presbyterian "rebel" family (also known as Covenanters) during the time period when King Charles II (and then King James the VII) began ruling the church, and hunting down those who refused to conform, or to recognize him as the head of the church. The Blair family has strong (if a bit extreme) morals, and refuses to conform, which brings some interesting and real conflicts into the book. In fact, everything in this book seemed horribly real. The witch trials were frightening, and the way the soldiers treated the Covenanters was utterly terrible. Laird really brought the time period alive, reminding the reader that not all of history is pretty.

    Side note: I actually didn't know about "Covenanters," or the "Killing times" until I read this book, and was so intrigued, that I went and researched it after reading. It was a very interesting time in history.

    Now, the book does have a bit of a slow pace to it. Things happen over the course of about a year (maybe even a little longer; I admit that I didn't pay that much attention to the timeline), so the action isn't immediate, and doesn't all happen at once with one huge climax. Instead, things happen over time, there are many obstacles to overcome (danger is always lurking), and the character growth is subtle. But it is exactly how I like my historicals: rich in detail, true to the time period, and not paced according to today's standards.

    Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014



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  • Posted March 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Must Read Christian Historical Fiction

    To say I enjoyed this book is an understatement. Elizabeth Laird has created a setting so detailed you are mentally transported back into 17th century Scotland. This is the story of 16 year old Maggie who lives with her grandmother after her father's death. Her grandmother is not liked by most of the people around her. As a bitter and hateful old woman she spits her venom on everyone around her. When a newborn dies the neighbors have a way to get rid of her. They accuse her of being a witch and burn her. This was often the case during this time period. It didn't take much to be accused of witchcraft. Maggie escapes her grandmother's fate through the help of a family friend. She makes her way to her uncle's house where she is welcomed. She soon learns things are not going well for her uncle. The king wants to remove God from the church and set himself up as supreme being. It is kind of like the story of Daniel in the Bible where those who did not bow to the king and worship him were thrown in the lions den. In this story the king has men watching the people. They have secret meetings to try to figure out what to do about the king. When many of them are arrested Maggie finds herself doing whatever she has to do just to save her family.

    Problems with religious differences is not new. It can be traced back to Bible times. Elizabeth Laird has used her ancestors to help bring this plight to light. There was a lot of Scottish history that I probably would not have learned if it had not been for this book. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to recommend it to my friends. Unfortunately they will have to wait until April to read it. But it is worth the wait.

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