Author: Elizabeth Laird
Series: Stand Alone
Published: Available now from Houghton Miffin
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Description: 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 Give This ...
I was hoping the mix of historical fiction, the idea of witches, and the young adult genre would make a good combination. In the end, the story was ok but was very heavy in the biblical references and a slow read.
Maggie Blair has had a hard life. Her mother died during childbirth and her father died during when of the cattle drive river crossings. She's been living with her grandmother who seems cold and is not very well liked by the community. Maggie longs to be normal and I think to feel loved. The local rich farmer has coveted her grandmother's cottage/land for years. When her grandmother delivers the farmers baby, she predicts it will die soon. When he dies, an opportunity presents itself and grandma is accused of being a witch. The finger soon points to Maggie as well. Maggie escapes after being sentenced to hang, but grandma doesn't.
Maggie crosses a great distance dressed as a boy and lands at the doorstep of her uncle, who has thought all along that his brother died without children. But, she's basically traded one form of persecution for another. Her uncle's family is deeply religious, but do not practice according to the laws. One day he is captured by the king's soldier's and imprisoned. Maggie feels guilty because all this might not have happened if she hasn't been followed by one of her false accusers, a maid in the rich farmer's house. She's trying to escape her own persecution and she doesn't care who she steps on to get what she wants.
A good portion of the book deals with Maggie traveling far and wide to locate her uncle and save him. I was amazed at all the the things she goes through for someone she still doesn't know that well. She grows in her own convictions and becomes an amazingly strong young women. In a time that most people don't see much outside of were they were born, Maggie manages to see much of Scotland. Her courage and determination were amazing. The whole situation caused her to look at the world in a completely different way.
I would have really enjoyed this story more without all the biblical references. I understood the religious persecutions and didn't feel like the characters needed to be quoting the bible all the time. I also found the story really slow at times (maybe that was due to the biblical references). I did enjoy the story for the most part.