book review

Review: Spy for the Queen of Scots

Theresa Breslin - Spy for the Queen of Scots

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.

Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril. Desperate to protect her friend from those who would slit her throat to steal her crown, while battling her feelings for the charismatic nobleman Duncan Alexander, Jenny becomes embroiled in a dangerous web of secrets, betrayals and lies.

I love the Tudor period in history, and because I’m currently studying it at A Level, I know quite a bit about the period. Some of the work we’ve been doing is about Mary, Queen of Scots, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to read a book about her because she is such a fascinating individual. And this book certainly didn’t disappoint!

Although I already knew about the events in Mary’s life, this book really brought them to life through the eyes of lady in waiting, Jenny. She was a fun narrator, who could be so adorable sometimes, and her relationship with Mary was perfect. I loved seeing the interactions between them, and I just really liked their friendship. There were plenty of other characters too, such as Duncan Alexander (Jenny’s love interest) and Mary’s other ladies in waiting. I’ll admit, it didn’t feel as if there was a huge amount of character development and some of the characters did feel a little flat, but as a whole they all contributed nicely to the story.

The pacing of this book did seem a little odd at times – the first part of the book went very quickly, but the middle felt really slow and then the ending picked up a lot. However, there was a lot of excitement and tension in this book as various escapes from different situations were made by Mary and her ladies. I couldn’t get enough of the scenes like that, and there will still plenty of twists in the story even though I knew what was going to happen.

One of the main reasons I picked up the book was because it was historical fiction that involved spies, and Jenny was pretty awesome in that area. Although there wasn’t a huge amount of spying, there were plenty of times where Jenny was being curious and inquisitive and they were probably my favourite parts of the book.

I really enjoyed this book, and although there were a few problems, I’d definitely recommend it to all fans of historical fiction.

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