Review: Spy for The Queen of Scots

Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Author: Theresa Breslin
Edition: Corgi Paperback
Released: 2nd August 2012
Series: n/a
Pages: 400 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Jenny, close friend and companion to Mary, Queen of Scots, has grown up at the French court - a place of ruthless ambition, intrigue and deceit. When Jenny overhears a whispered plot, and several mysterious deaths take place, she turns spy for Mary.

Then Mary returns to Scotland to claim her throne, and the girls face even greater peril. There are many who would slit Mary's throat to steal her crown, and Jenny must protect her mistress - while also fighting her feelings for the charismatic nobleman Duncan Alexander.

My past experience with historical fiction has been... well, not so good. That's why I'd made it a rule to never pick up another historical book. But then this one came through the post. It wasn't expected. I put it aside, dismissing it - doubting it would be something I'd like... Then, surprising myself, I ended up picking it up. I don't know what came over me but, suddenly, I just wanted to give it a chance. And I'm glad I did. It turned out to be an interesting read that, even though I didn't love, I enjoyed enough to make me consider venturing more into historical fiction in the future.

One thing I adored about this novel in particular was that it was (partly) set in Scotland. I love reading books set in my home country (since they are virtually non-existent!) - it was a breath of fresh air. I also hadn't really thought much of Mary, Queen of Scots, and this helped me understand more of what happened to her. Obviously this book doesn't relay the events exactly like how they really happened (considering it's fiction) but, I'm to believe, that the author did incorporate some truth into the storyline. Which I enjoyed.

The story is told through the POV of lady-in-waiting and best friend to Mary, Lady Ginette - known better as Jenny. I found her to be a very admirable character. She was extremely loyal to Mary and was always looking out for her. However, she did have a tendency to jump to conclusions and, more often than not, she took out her frustration and anger on Duncan. Which I felt was really unfair to him. Even though he was a very secretive and frustrating character himself, I still fell for him. The romance between them was a little all over the place though.

Overall, I did end up enjoying this book more than I thought I would. Though I was led to believe there would be more spying on Jenny's part than there was, the romance was a bit out-of-sorts and the language in the book had me confused at parts - as is common with the few historical books I have read - I am still glad I read it. It was completely different from anything I'd read before and I was constantly intrigued as to how the story would end - given that Mary, ultimately, comes to a graphic end. So, to conclude, I did like this novel. Just not loads.

Huge thanks go out to Random House for my copy!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Anyone got any YA historical fiction books to recommend? ;)


  1. I love historical fiction books! And I didn't know you were Scottish. I'm really curious about the Scottish monarchy since it's very interesting with Mary Stewart and all. I love the way you described Jenny. All in all, great review and I really want to read this book!

  2. Ah this sounds really interesting and a time period I think quite a lot of authors avoid because there's such brilliant authors like Hilary Mantel who write in that period.
    I'd recommend (I'm a sucker for historical fiction): The Other Countess by Eve Edwards, The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen and Once by Morris Gleitzman.

  3. Thank goodness I'm not the only one who isn't the biggest fan of historical fiction. I have only read two good books in that genre and I've read tons others which were .. not so good :/ I'll definitely look out for this one!

    Yay, a book in Scotland :) I don't think I've read a book set there either. Even though it had some faults, I'm glad you enjoyed it :D

  4. I have yet to read a historical fiction novel but this one might be my first! Awesome review, and I didn't know you lived in Scotland. Freaking awesome :)

  5. I admit that I don't pick up historical fiction much either, it just doesn't appeal to me as much. I'm glad you found a book set in your home country! I always love it when a book is set in the England! Shame about the all-over-the-place romance, I hate badly done romance!
    Hardcore Heroines


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