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The Betrayal of Maggie Blair Hardcover – April 18, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (April 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547341261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547341262
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,162,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a beautifully crafted novel to be savored for its symbolic language, historical atmosphere, and vivid characters."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Laird celebrates courage, survival, and the spark of independence that carries Maggie through."—Publishers Weekly
"Fine and effortless prose, creating instantly gripping characters and setting ."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Laird has been nominated five times for the Carnegie Medal and has won numerous awards, including the Children’s Book Award. She and her husband divide their time between London and Edinburgh.

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Customer Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I definitely recommend it to other historical fiction lovers!
Literary Darling
Uncle Blair and his family are charmed by Annie, who claims that she has come to repent for her false accusations on Bute, but Maggie is not convinced.
Amazon Customer
Although at times these themes are a bit heavy-handed, they are overall well woven into the plot of a believable and engaging story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Darling on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Firstly: although Maggie Blair is accused of being a witch, readers should know that this is a work of historical fiction and it has no supernatural elements whatsoever. The book's description and cover art could probably use a bit of adjusting to make the focus of the book a little more apparent.

Even taken as a work of historical fiction, however, this story is interesting but it's not particularly riveting. It's well written enough, but it lacks a certain urgency and passion that you'd expect from such a compelling subject. The author has clearly done her research into 17th century Scotland and it seems that this story is loosely based on events from her family's history--but that very thing may be the root of the problem. The approach is a little too academic and little too even-keeled. It's also severely hindered by a relentless stream of what may be historically accurate, but incredibly polarizing overuse of biblical passages.

Readers who are interested in the topics of puritanical persecution and wrongful accusations would do better to try Elizabeth George Speare's YA classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond or Arthur Miller's scorching play The Crucible. Both these literary works offer not only an idea of how religious fervor has played a tragic role in world history, but also some sense of the burning passion that can lead to those unfortunate events. Without inciting genuine emotion and interest, a work of historical fiction--no matter how competently rendered--remains merely a thinly disguised history lesson.

*An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.*
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Book Vacation on April 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was a really interesting historical novel, and I'm glad that it's making its debut in the United States this month. As the synopsis states, it deals with Scotland in the seventeenth century, an aspect we don't study very often in the States, yet the events in this novel mirror events in the U.S., specifically the Salem witch trials. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel as Maggie and her grandmother are accused of witchcraft. I think what I enjoyed the most about this is that Laird never explicitly states whether the grandmother and Maggie are actually innocent. Laird did a phenomenal job writing this portion of the novel, and I found myself pulled in different directions as the story unfolded. At times I was convinced that Maggie and her grandmother were truly innocent only to be confronted with information that made me later questions their innocence--and the answer is never blatantly stated. I enjoyed being able to figure it out for myself, without Laird telling me what to think; this was refreshing as I was able to make my own decision based on the text.

However, what the synopsis doesn't tell you, and what you need to know, is that this novel also has extreme religious undertones, and only half the novel deals with witchery. Many of the characters are highly religious and they quote from the text often, which is fine, but not my forte. I understand that religion is imperative for this historical novel as it deals not only with false accusations of witchery, but also with King Charles' attempt to force protestants into submission. However, I found myself skimming large passages where the characters rehash previous statements, or quote excessively from the Bible, and I just didn't enjoy that portion of the novel. This, of course, is a personal preference, and you may come to a different conclusion as you read; it just isn't for me. Three and a half stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By theEPICrat on March 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a remarkable historical piece! The Betrayal Of Maggie Blair weaves an incredible story, rich in history and characters, sure to enchant you to turn the pages faster to find the hard truths of witchcraft and heresy.

At first, I could not make head or tails of Maggie Blair. Did I like her? Did I find her too naive and easily swayed by charismatic preachers? Will she be hanged or burnt on the false accusations of witchcraft? As these questions churned in my head, I followed Maggie's plight and found myself slowly falling in love with this book! Elizabeth Laird really throws everything plus the kitchen sink into Maggie's story and gives us insights into what it might have been liked back then when religion played a big part in people's lives - and witchcraft and heresy were starting to cause panic.

All the characters in The Betrayal Of Maggie Blair gave the story much flavor. The villains, the heroes, the romantics, the devout, the liars, the betrayed, the power-hungry - it was hard to let everyone go at the end. Each had a role to play in this drama, and they played it extremely well. No one was a cookie-cutter character, having both qualities to redeem and damn them. Even the villains tugged at my sympathies, although they certainly deserved their unfortunate end as time went on.

If you enjoyed The Witch Of Blackbird Pond, The Crucible, or falling into the time period where they chased after witches, I trust you will find The Betrayal Of Maggie Blair just as magical!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelli of I'd So Rather Be Reading on July 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was a somewhat slow starter for me, but once I got going, I really enjoyed it! It was a longer YA read, which was a little daunting at first but in the end I appreciated the length.

Maggie is an orphan who lives in absolute poverty with her grandmother. She scavenges for food and driftwood along the bay every day. Maggie's grandmother is hated by most of the townspeople for her gruff attitude and quickness with an unkind word or even curse. By curse, I mean people believed she was actually putting a curse on their lands or family. Maggie and her grandmother are swept up in the trend of false accusation, and Maggie ends up on the run for her life.

I've come to find that I really like books about people falsely accused of witchcraft, and The Betrayal of Maggie Blair was no exception. One thing that really struck me about this book was the daily struggle to survive. I love reading about people's daily lives in historical fiction, and Elizabeth Laird fleshes out this aspect to the story very well. I found myself imagining what it would have been like to live in the 1600's: wearing shoes only in church, getting one new dress a year, not bathing regularly, no electricity, etc. Maggie lives on the fringes of society and barely scrapes by. She regularly goes to bed hungry, but always stays positive and makes the best out of things.

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Laird's work in the future.
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