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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Spy for the Queen of Scots

Author: Theresa Breslin


Release date: 6th June 2013
Genre: Historical Thriller
Target audience: YA
Publisher: Doubleday, Random House


Review:
Spy for the Queen of Scots is a story of political unrest, spies and betrayal. It’s a historical novel set in the late sixteenth century in both France and Scotland.


Lady Ginette – known as Jenny to her friends – is a one of Mary Queen of Scots’ ladies. They spent much of their childhood playing together and now as young women, they are close friends and confidants. Mary is soon to marry the Dauphin Francis and his mother Catherine D’Medici does not look kindly on her future daughter in law. Living in Catherine’s court is a dangerous place for Mary. Jenny as her closest friend begins to fear Catherine’s ruthless hand. Jenny is soon witness to the horror of Catherine’s cruel and tyrannical power. As a loyal friend to Mary, she secretly begins to spy to protect the Scottish Queen. Sometimes aided, and sometimes thwarted by the mysterious Sir Duncan Alexander, Jenny must decide who truly supports the true heir to the Scottish throne and who is at the heart of her betrayal.


I really enjoyed reading this book. The turbulent history of the late sixteenth century came to life and I learnt much about the reign of Mary Queen of Scots as well as the rule of France under Catherine D’Medici as a regent queen. There was also the conflict between the Protestant and Catholic religions in Scotland and England to try to comprehend and I enjoyed musing over it all even when I wasn’t reading the book.


Jenny’s character was both likeable and courageous. I found her mistrust, as well as affection, for Duncan Alexander compelling to read about. Of course, I was hoping that this would be a love story and not a tragedy. The prologue gives the reader a glimpse of Mary moments before her execution which makes it clear that this story is not going to rewrite history. It is partly Mary’s story. It is sympathetic portrayal of a young queen trying to find a way to prevent all out civil war in her country and war with its closest neighbours. But this is also Jenny’s story. She is the eyes through which we view momentous events and the more private moments of the life of her monarch friend.


The plot is thrilling to follow. Uprising, military coups, poisoning, explosions – there is death and danger around every corner. I found myself enthralled by it all. And also charmed because there is also the story of romance for Mary and for Jenny, and as a hopeless romantic, I was hooked.


Spy for the Queen of Scots was well-written and brilliantly paced. It was an educational read as well as an engaging one. Another excellent historical novel from Theresa Breslin!



Source: Borrowed from the public library.

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