About the Book:
Scotland, 1561, and a ship comes across the North Sea carrying home Mary, the young, charismatic Queen of Scots, returning after 13 years in the French court to wrest back control of her throne.
The Blackadder family has long awaited for the Queen’s return to bring them justice. Alison Blackadder, disguised as a boy from childhood to protect her from the murderous clan that stole their lands, must learn to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, building a web of dependence and reward.
Just as the Queen can trust nobody, Alison discovers lies, danger and treachery at every turn. Then, unexpectedly, she finds love…
About the Author:
Yes, Jesse Blackadder really was born with that surname. When she finally had enough of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson, she travelled to Scotland to find the origins of her surname. Her novel The Raven’s Heart grew from there. It won the Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Award in 2009 and was published in Feb 2011.
Jesse is an award winning Australian novelist, short story writer and freelance journalist, fascinated by landscapes and belonging. Her first novel was After the Party (Hardie Grant Books 2005), which made the Australian Book Review list of all time favourite Australian novels in February 2010. She’s been a writer in residence in Sitka Alaska, in outback New South Wales, at Byron Bay and at Varuna in the Blue Mountains. Jesse’s next book, which she is writing as part of a Doctor of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney, is about the first woman to see Antarctica and Jesse recently travelled to Antarctica as part of her research.
Connect with Jesse Blackadder: WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Mary, Queen of Scots is one of those very intriguing figures in history. A woman, born to rule in a time when women were considered not much more than chattel. She was sent as a child to France to marry but her husband died and she was sent/invited back to Scotland to take up her crown. Was she wanted? Probably only to produce a male heir. But we will never know for sure. What we do know is that she felt entitled to the crown of England as well and factions there wanted her as she was Catholic and Elizabeth was Protestant. She is a woman about whom books could be written ad nauseum and people would read and be fascinated.
In this tale Ms. Blackadder uses her family’s history as a starting point for a tale of loyalty, love and revenge. Young Robert Blackadder is the son of William, a man whose mother sent him away when the family castle was about to be raided by the powerful Hume clan. His mother knew he would be killed if he was found as there could be no heirs to the estate. William grows up bitter and vengeful about his family’s loss having been constantly told he needs to get the castle back. When his relationship with the powerful Lord Bothwell causes it to be his ship that brings Mary back to Scotland William sees a way to perhaps get close to the Queen. Little does he realize that a Queen does not notice a shipowner.
The Queen does notice young Robert though but William feels that the Queen needs a lady in waiting more than a young boy so Robert – who has dressed as a boy – must return to being Alison. Alison, DAUGHTER of William who was disguised as a boy to hide her from Hume’s assassins. The problem is Alison does not know how to be a girl. Her relatives teach her and she is soon off to be a lady in waiting to the Queen. There she is to get close to the Queen and gain back the family castle.
This is a somewhat long and involved book. The kind I really like to sink my teeth into but to try and break out the whole plot would take me ’til Monday. Just know that Alison’s adventures truly begin once she starts to live in Mary’s household. Alison is a complicated character – she is bisexual and changeable. I’m not completely sure she knows what she wants. She has lived her life in the shadow of her father’s bitterness and goes into the shadow of a rather imperious woman in a dangerous court. She is never just Alison – she is, it seems, always someone’s pawn. This leads to some frustration with the character. I suspect this is intentional on the part of Ms. Blackadder. Mary is also difficult but most Queens are….
The story plays out against the historical backdrop of the time using all the well documented points of Mary’s life with Alison being present for all of them. The book was involving, action packed and entertaining. The last quarter of it was a bit like a tennis match though as the reader is whipped back and forth and back again as Alison learns the truth of her heritage and the ownership of Blackadder Castle is finally settled.
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Disclosure: I received an e-copy of The Raven’s Heart from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free e-book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.