Quest for a Maid
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Quest for a Maid

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,511 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Meg Wright is nine when she hides under a table and hears her sister Inge kill the King of Scotland by witchcraft, setting in motion a treacherous power struggle.
Paperback, 273 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1988)
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Aug 27, 2008 Tess rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young girls, people who like historical fiction/fantasy
Okay, so this is just one more GUSHING review of Quest for a Maid.
I think my reasons for loving this are about the same as everyone else's: it is extremely well written (I felt like I knew what life was like in 13th century Scotland). Meg is a strong heroine and very real - she has good qualities as well as bad qualities. Also, the magic and adventure were just the right blend!
I can't imagine growing up without reading this story. I read it when I was ten, and was very proud that I could read su...more
Carol Storm
QUEST FOR A MAID is the greatest YA novel I have read since THE PERILOUS GARD by Elizabeth Marie Pope. It's a standard YA novel in some ways -- a strong teen girl overcomes self doubt, makes friends, helps others, learns lessons. But it's set in Medieval Scotland, and the historical details and the setting are incredibly gripping. There's a ton of adventure, magic, a little romance, and some chilling violence and danger too. Something for everyone in fact!

As an adult reader, I found that I notic...more
Sep 02, 2009 Elizabeth added it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Mhari
Shelves: scotland-fun
I'm pretty sure that the reason this book is still in circulation in our library system is because it is of "Scottish Interest." Well, GOOD. Whatever it takes! The elegance of its language (and the obscurity of some of it), the stately pace of the descriptions and the attention to detail of daily life in 13th century Scotland, and the general gentleness of the main character all somehow seem representative of a generation of children's literature now gone. (It reads like Rosemary Sutcliff but fr...more
one of the most attention-grabbing first lines ever: "when i was nine years old, i hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

i haven't read this since i was about 13, but i'm still pretty confident that it's great. perhaps not a challenging read, but a terrific story (and FAR better writing than some 'great plot' books ahem*davincicode*ahem).

it's a story about meg, a girl in medieval scotland who is chosen to bring back the norwegian child who is rightful heir to the throne, and the co...more
Apr 30, 2008 Holly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Holly by: Caitlin McKenna
"When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

Quest for a Maid, by Frances Mary Hendry, is a wonderful quasi-historical fiction adventure story that I highly recommend. With interesting and skillfully drawn characters and complex relationships, the vividly portrayed setting of thirteenth-century Scotland and Norway, and a goodly amount of peril and intrigue (and some unexpected romance), it's a highly original, fast-paced, absorbing read. An altogether excellen...more
Very engrossing story... I stayed up until 3 am to finish it! I couldn't give it 5 stars though because I found Inge's motivation for her evil doings weak. The person Inge is described as prior to the killing, and her reason to agree in compliance, just wouldn't mesh for me. Maybe the writer didn't characterize her well enough in the beginning or perhaps Meg was just blind to Inge's greed- but I think a power-hunger so deep as to agree to murder is something that should have/would have made itse...more
Lisa Findley
My love for this book knows no bounds. I believe I first read it at age 13, when the confluence of historical fiction, adventure, spirited protagonist, a little romance, a little magic, and a delightful writing style completely engrossed me. It still does.

Plus, is there a better opening line than, "When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king"?
Okay, so this is another FAVORITE. I read it when I was a kid and LOVED it. I read it every once in a while since then and love it MORE every time. SUCH a great story!
I loved this - what a fantastic opening line! I was hooked from the beginning and stayed up all night finishing it. So interesting and realistic, great cast of characters, nice mix of action and quieter moments so you don't start to feel worn-out from nonstop conflict. The pacing was perfect. I loved Meg as a character - you know an author's doing things right when you don't need to be TOLD that a character is brave because you can see it in their actions.
I did find the dialogue a bit hard to f...more
Picked this up at DI this week. Hard to rate. Writing & story excellent, but there were a few problems.

First, the good.

Great story about a young girl growing up in 13th century Scotland. She is honest, loyal and brave. Positive family life (even if it doesn't seem like it at one point in the story.) Great description of what life would have been like to a moderately well-to-do family in that time.

She's betrothed to a boy when she's 11, he 6. She goes to his family for the next 6 years to...more
I've seen this book on other people's to read lists here on GoodReads, and so added it to mine. I enjoyed it, but I did find large segments of it to be a little long-winded and unnecessary as we talk about clothing and so forth. I did appreciate the protagonist, Meg, and her level-headedness in times of stress, but in the end, the romantic conclusion I'd been waiting for through half the book was very short, to the point, and anti-climactic for me. I would have liked a little more exploration in...more
Set in 13th Century Scotland, the story opens with the death (murder via witchcraft) of King Alexander III. This is the story of Meg, a well-to-do girl of almost marriageable age who is in the wrong place at the right time again and again to watch (or shape) the way history unfolds.

A friend gave me a copy of A Little Princess for my 10th birthday, a book I already owned, so we took it back to the children's bookstore from which it had been purchased. At the time I pretty much only read Sci-Fi/F...more
Oct 07, 2008 Tianna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tianna by: Jessica
I loved the book. I loved the story; I loved the messages; I loved the characters. It's a tear jerker, to be sure. Many of the characters you learn to love (and others that you don't) don't have happy endings. It's not your typical love story. It's more just a good adventure story.

First word of advice: Don't read the back cover. It takes one part of the book and makes you think the entire book is about it. Then when you're halfway through the book, and hasn't even started that plot line, you get...more
Violet Wilson
It definitely reads as a middle-grade or young-adult book, but there's an amazing amount of political/royal intrigue. Mainly, it's a great adventure story, with danger and mystery, and a strong female lead. I don't even like adventure novels, or intrigue, either, but the characters were so well-drawn that it pulled me in. The setting, early medieval Scotland, was thoroughly unfamiliar to me and probably to most readers, so it feels more like a fantasy novel, with a lot of world-building needed,...more
I remember being absolutely obsessed with this book as a kid. Something reminded me of it recently but all I could remember was a dark forest, a kissing scene and the word "maid" in the title. I spent a couple of weeks trying desperately to remember the name and finally asked my mom, "Do you remember a book that I was obsessed with that had the word 'maid' in the title." Without hesitation, she said "Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry". Title and author! Amazing!

This is definitely a book t...more
I like this historical fiction novel, as it explores another historical event of which I'd never heard. The author's note places it a bit, but other than that, it's just exciting.

I love how Meg gets the upper hand over Sir James when she boldly claims his servant as hers (she knows the boy's name and he doesn't). p. 80: "One basic fact of life is that it is much more difficult to shout if you are sitting on a low stool."

p. 144: "The nobles were packed like barrelled herring on the quay, velvets...more
Brandi Blue
I read this book a long time ago (10-15 years?) and loved it. I remember it having a very profound effect on me.

I had forgotten the title and author, and had no idea how to find this book again.

I posted a query in the group "Constant Reader" and through a VERY vague description, someone managed to point it out to me.

I am SO thrilled to have tracked down this book, and I can't wait to get my hands on an actual copy of it! I am so excited to re-read it, and see if it strikes me as it did when I wa...more
A great read for middle schoolers who like beautiful herbalist witches, historical geopolitics, and romances tacked on to the end of adventure stories. I know I was just such a middle schooler.

Inge's character is underdeveloped, however--she changes drastically when the plot needs her to, but the changes don't necessarily make sense. Which is a shame, because she's so cool.

(It was a lot of fun reading this again 16+ years later, and genuinely not remembering what happened next. Except for the ro...more
Anne Slater
This is an older-tween, YA and Grandma book, of especial interest to someone with an place in his/her heart for* the history of Scotland.

Built on the deaths of King Alexander II of Scotland, and of Margaret, Princess of Norway who died in Orkney en route to marry Prince Edward of England, this novel reveals the lives of young upper-crust types in Scotland in the early 12th century. Sea travel, and the economy of the day (young Davie figures he knows enough languages and of trade practices to mak...more
What a find! This is set in 13th century Scotland, and it's sort of loosely based on a true story. The characters are compelling and the story is exciting and touching. The author was able to give us a young heroine who is spunky and rule-breaking without being anachronistic. I loved all of the details about life in the middle ages, too. I don't know how accurate they are, but they seemed believable.
Zainab Magdy
I read this book over 7 times when I was 7 years younger than today. I loved it, I still remember it very well, I remember so many details from it. It was my first introduction to the burning and drowning of witches which triggered my interest in that area, leading me read books like Miller's The Crucible. I love this book.
Jul 08, 2011 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Wendy by: Melody
Not my usual, or anything I would have picked up, and the first time I read a few pages I didn't stick with it; but after a while I found the story and its world engrossing. How refreshing to read a historical fiction about a witch wherein the witch is not just a clever, misunderstood girl who has some skill with herbs.
This was a pretty good book. I have a hard time with how magic and witchcraft can be portrayed in some books.
However, in this book it shows that there is no easy out, that those with powers cannot necessarily see all or understand all, and that human devotion and tenacity can still overcome.
One of my #1 favorite kids books. This weird book is about a historical character who, if you are wondering, was burnt at the stake about 10 years after the action in the book takes place (this is not a spoiler, it is a fact that any fool can look up on Wikipedia).
This book was a great book to read as a young adult - I loved the story line and just tracked it down so I can maybe read it again in the future. It's a quick read since it is written for teens but a historical fiction based in old Europe.
Historical fiction about the fight for the Scottish throne after the murder of the king. Meg goes through many adventures to save "the maid", a norwegian princess who is supposed to assume the throne. Good read.
This book was a mixed bag for us, partly because I only pre-read the first 50 pages or so and decided that it was a good book for us. But then plot really changed later in ways I wasn't expecting.

The good:
Meg, the main character, is terrific! She's brave, funny, warm-hearted, intelligent, and loyal. (And she can sail a boat, which was a nice tie-in with the Swallows & Amazons book we've been listening to in the car.). Her companions (Davie and Peem) are also appealing.

The author clearly d...more
Meg is a perfect heroine! She has the courage to keep going, and there's a little spice in her too. It also makes a beautiful love story, for those old romantics out there!
Amelia Wallace
One of the few books I enjoy reading over and over again. I won 2 copies, one of which is so worn through. I love the twist to the love story and having a heroine save the day
Lord, how I loved this book back in the day. Anyone in the market for challenging, engrossing YA should pick it up.
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