Recent Reading: Quest for a Maid

I have to say, for a bit there I was thinking, Why why why did you all recommend this short MG/YA story to me? However, whew, everything worked out well in the end, so that was a relief.

Hendry beautifully evokes the feel of the era. This may be the most successful use of dialect I’ve ever seen. She also captures the attitudes and worldview of people living in this time and place (Scotland in the 13th Century). This is great! I admire her writing very much. However, I have to admit, the back of my mind was frequently occupied with thoughts like, “Thank God this isn’t me. Thank God I didn’t live then.”

Great characterization of Meg, the protagonist; and of the secondary characters. The children act their age — their age in a 13th century world, where a kid can be betrothed at six with the expectation that the marriage will take place when he’s thirteen. I know perfectly well how differently childhood and adulthood were viewed at the time, and it’s still a bit shocking to read about, especially when everybody in the story takes that sort of thing totally for granted. Relationships are drawn subtly; the reader’s going to have to pay attention to realize certain things; but I really appreciated how the relationships worked out in the end.

This is a historical fantasy, not purely historical; it’s written as though the witchcraft that people believed in at the time was entirely real. That’s important to the plot. I would have liked to have a chat with Inge about witchcraft … as long as she didn’t decide she hated me … anyway, I really wondered about witchcraft because she didn’t seem exactly evil. Most of the time. Well, part of the time. Anyway, I wondered.

Hendry has quite a few other books available, I notice. I anybody’s read those, what did you think?

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1 thought on “Recent Reading: Quest for a Maid”

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I was surprised when the not-yet-Teen pulled it off the shelf in the bookstore, but it was a big hit. Doesn’t generally go for historical novels, even now.

    I spent a longish period of my life reading up on Scottish history of that period, more or less – King Alexander through Robert Bruce’s death – and the suspicion of witchcraft in Alexander’s death as well as the Maid’s goes back a long ways, FWIW. Although it’s just as plausible that it was the new young wife factor driving him into the storm that night.

    No on in this household has read anything else by the author.

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