Source: ARC received from NetGalleyTrigger Warning(s): Maggie’s grandmother is emotionally and verbally abusive, sometimes physically. There’s also quite a bit of torture in the third part of the book. I really enjoyed this book. Mostly it was because I was heavily invested in Maggie’s tale--I wanted to see her finally happy, after all the horrid things she has to live through. I wanted things to turn out right for her. While the ending may not work for some people, I myself was quite happy with it. Through the course of the novel, you see Maggie struggling with her doubts about religion, whether or not she truly is a witch, and trying to figure out just how to make herself happy. I loved Maggie as a character. She starts out doubtful, scared, unsure of where her life is going, wondering if she’s damned. She grows up into a very confident, brave woman, willing to die for those she loves if it comes down to it. She’s prone, just as anyone else, to thinking ill will on people, and sometimes she has her moments of utter stupidity, but so do everyone else in the book and that’s what makes them delightfully human. Truly the characterization is wonderful; I think my favorite was probably Tam, who comes right behind Maggie. Even Annie, the secondary villain, I had a sort of grudging respect and like for; she’s manipulative and greedy, but then I can’t help but understand why she is the way she is. She’s one of those “love to hate” characters. The only character I probably never liked was Maggie’s grandmother, since she was abusive, but even then I understood why she acted the way she did, even if I didn’t personally agree with it. The book is obviously very well researched, as the 1600s Scotland come to life beautifully in the prose, down to word choice and little details. The containment of the prisoners in the later part of the book was horrifying and quite realistic. It does feel that you’re in 17th century Scotland a lot of the time, and nothing about it ever feels forced. Laird presents a lot of differing views on religion and the way it’s being fought over across the country, and she never says which one is right or wrong. She leaves it to the reader to come to their own conclusions, and shows us that there are many different shades of grey throughout the entire matter, right down to the people fighting for both sides. I really appreciated this and thought Laird pulled it off very well. All the characters are sometimes morally wrong, but due to their circumstances, it’s understandable in a way. It makes them human and more realized. The only parts of the book I didn’t care for were, at times, the middle dragged in places. The book isn’t particularly fast paced anyway, but the middle seemed a bit looser than the rest. There are a lot of slow pauses in between certain plot points, too. Another part I didn’t like was how one random character, who we only really know for maybe a few chapters, after helping Maggie, suddenly proposes to her. It felt very out of left field and weird, like it was just thrown in there to get the word count up. Those are just little things, though, and what I loved about the book vastly outnumbers what I didn’t like. Honestly, this book has an element that most YA needs these days; a lead heroine who isn’t solely defined by the man she’s in love with, or her relationship with him. Maggie isn’t defined by any relationship in the book. She loves her newly found family, yes, and in a way she loves her Granny as well, but she’s her own person. She wants to be married some day, and there is a guy interested in her for a large part of the book, but she has so many different things going on in her life that love, for the moment, has no place in it. It was refreshing to see such a thing in a YA book and it’s something that needs to be around more often. I think that’s why I loved this book so much: Because it was all about Maggie and her life and her story, and how her story interconnects with others, and how she’s determined to find herself despite everything. The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is an engrossing, if slightly slow read. The story takes place over the course of at least a year or two, with people coming and going into Maggie’s and her situation always changing, always precarious. The characters are well written and fully realized, and there are no strictly good or bad sides. All in all it’s a satisfying read that should be tried by anyone who loves historical fiction and loves to see a strong woman who’s not a fighter. I’ll definitely be checking out more works by Elizabeth Laird.