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Spy for the Queen of Scots - Theresa Breslin

Spy for the Queen of Scots; Theresa Breslin; Doubleday Children's; 2012

Book summary (taken from Amazon UK): As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette - known as Jenny - is the young queen's closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors - not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary's own scheming half-brother, James - Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary.

Literature for Lads Review:
There is no doubt that Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most colourful,and oft misunderstood, characters in Scottish history. Regarded by many as a woman of great beauty, yet by others as vain and selfish, there is no doubt she was certainly an intriguing character. Over the years a number of books have been written about her but few tackle the Queen's formative years growing up in the French royal court.

This is where Breslin's story starts, catapulting us back to the 16th century and introducing us to many of the characters which played such an important part in Mary's life. Catherine de Medici, John Knox, Lord Darnley and the Earl Of Bothwell are just some of the historical figures who feature in a book that not only entertains but also educates.

We meet Mary for the first time in the books prologue as she awaits her execution near the end of the 16th century. Little is given away in this short introduction to how Mary ended up in in this predicament before we are quickly transported back 29 years earlier to 1558 where Mary Stuart is living in the royal court in France.

In this opening sequence we are introduced to Jenny, close friend and companion to Mary who has grown up with her at the French royal court. Breslin soon makes it apparent that the royal court is a place of ruthless ambition, full of secrets and danger and it is whilst at court that Jenny, in light of several mysterious deaths, decides to turn spy for Mary.

What follows is an intriguing, historical thriller which takes in 3 countries, 30 years of history and an interesting cast of characters. As we follow Mary's journey from the royal court in France back to Scotland to claim her throne Mary, Jenny and the royal entourage encounter various dangerous plots, suspicious characters, not to mention attempts on Mary's life itself.

The book is full of depth and Breslin expertly creates the 16th century that Mary is living in. At times it feels like we are not merely the reader but rather a spectator watching from the sidelines as Mary's amazing story unfolds. The sights, smells and and sounds of 16th century Scotland are brought to life throughout the book, adding to the reading experience.

This is a great historical thriller from Breslin which cements her place as one of the best contemporary writers for young adults. The book deals with one of the most interesting periods of Scottish history and tells the story of the often misunderstood Mary Queen of Scots in a fresh light. The book's cast of characters are full of ambition, intrigue and yet are equally deceitful, and would think nothing of stabbing their best friend, or future Queen, in the back. 

Marks out of 10: 7

For more information on the author vist her webpage

Here is short video of some images of Mary, Queen of Scots.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like this might be interesting to read alongside Harriet Castor's forthcoming book about Mary. (or her book about Henry VIII's childhood for that matter!)