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Review: Queen Hereafter, Susan Fraser King

Margaret’s life has been fraught with about as many difficulties as possible. Born of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian heritage, she is a princess, and her brother Edgar the rightful heir to the English throne. But her father is dead, William the Conqueror has seized the throne, and she and her family find themselves shipwrecked in Scotland. To secure King Malcolm’s support for her brother’s claim, Margaret has to marry him, though all she wants from life is to be a nun. Eva is Scottish royalty of another sort, albeit illegitimate, a bard sent to Malcolm’s court from Moray by his rival Queen Gruadhe, better known as Lady Macbeth. Ostensibly a hostage, Eva is really intended as a spy, but she finds herself torn between two loyalties as she befriends the new queen.

I had vaguely heard of Queen Margaret before, but certainly not in as much detail as this book offers. My knowledge of history usually stops at the English border, though not really by choice, and that desire to know a little bit more is what inspired me to pick up this book. After finishing it, I am definitely eager to know more about Margaret and Malcolm and the entire situation in Scotland.

As historical novels go, I liked this one. It was quite an entertaining read; though at the times there was a bit too much info-dumping, overall I felt the story flowed smoothly and was just the right length for the book’s 330 pages. Margaret’s life had many facets between her spirituality, her love for the king and her children, and her desire to do her best for her people. King depicts her as a truly inspiring queen, much as I would imagine she’s been perceived throughout history, who is even willing to disobey her husband for what she believes in.

Eva, the main fictional character of the narrative, actually fits in very well. She’s the perfect lens through which we can see Margaret as she’s perceived, rather than as she perceives herself, especially as her friendship with the queen develops. The novel really starts to come into its own after they’ve met for this reason and depicts a heart-warming relationship between women as well as an interesting story. Eva is really the drive behind the plot, as it is she who is consistently torn between loyalties. She has to decide to what lengths she’ll go to obtain the information Queen Gruadh wants without feeling as though she’s betraying Margaret. Otherwise, not much really happens that’s out of the ordinary; Margaret marries, has children, prays, and gives to the poor. That’s about it.

With a few great characters, relationships, and its fair share of inner turmoil, Queen Hereafter is an excellent choice for historical fiction lovers who are craving a tale set in Scotland.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free for review.

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