The Wild Queen

406p. (Young Royals Series). maps. Houghton Harcourt. June 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206188-3.
Gr 8 Up—Through a fresh, modern voice, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is presented as a fascinating, headstrong, multidimensional woman who struggled to hold the fraying threads of 16th-century Scotland together. Pledged to be married to the French prince, Mary leaves Scotland at five years old. Vivid descriptions of her education and socialization at the French royal court display the author's extensive research. Tragically widowed as a teenager, Mary returns to Scotland to reign and remarry. But the only good to come of her marriage to immature and selfish Henry Stuart is an heir-her son James. When Henry is murdered (in a plot of which Mary claims to know nothing), the world watches to see if she will punish those responsible. Rumors fly that she ordered the killing, and imperial and public opinion turn against her. Mary flees to England to seek aid from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, but she finds family ties mean nothing. The last 19 years of her life are spent in various prisons where she suffers ill health, waning support, cruel jailers, and, finally, a death warrant signed by Elizabeth. An executioner's axe ends her life. The scheming and rivalries of Scotland are covered in such a way that the novel makes complicated history accessible and intriguing. Overall, this book portrays Mary in a sympathetic light, emphasizing her spirit and tenacity.—Lisa Crandall, Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI
This sympathetic, sometimes flat novel focuses on the first half of Mary Stuart's tempestuous life. Mary's first-person narration presents the young royal as a lively girl devoted to her friends. With each passing year, she experiences more manipulation and betrayal but is too unfamiliar with the politics of the French, Scottish, and English families involved to understand the dangers she faces.

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