What struck me the most when I read Susan Fraser King’s first novel, Lady MacBeth , was the way she was able to suck me in within the first page. Well...moreWhat struck me the most when I read Susan Fraser King’s first novel, Lady MacBeth , was the way she was able to suck me in within the first page. Well, I can happily say that the same thing happened with her newest release, Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland.
Margaret, the daughter of an exiled prince and granddaughter to Edmund Ironside, was raised in the strictly religious Hungarian court. Her father is called back to England, but dies shortly after and following a series of events she and her family leave England and travel to the court of King Malcolm III of Scotland for protection. However safety comes with a price that only she can pay with her hand in marriage. As dutiful as Margaret is, she is less than thrilled at marrying this rough, brutish man who ignores and disgusts her but resolves herself to the inevitable and vows to be the best queen possible. It’s hard to think that with the rocky start to their relationship and given that they seem to be total opposites, Margaret and Malcolm have one of the most successful (with all of their eight children living to adulthood)and happy marriages in royal couple history. And though the people of Scotland did not want a Saxon queen, they come to love her for her charity and kindnesses. After reading about the innate goodness in Margaret, it comes as no surprise to me that she is now known as a Saint.
In Queen Hereafter we also reunite with Lady MacBeth and meet her granddaughter, daughter of the murdered King Lulach, Eva. Eva, an accomplished bard, knowing her destiny lay elsewhere, she leaves the court of her grandmother and answers Malcolm’s summons that she come to his court as a royal hostage to keep Lady MacBeth in check and behaving. As Malcolm is Lady MacBeth’s enemy she is loath to send her beloved granddaughter to the lion’s den, but word has come to her that Malcolm has commission a historical account which would not paint MacBeth and Lulach in very glowing terms and Eva could be in a position to secretly find out more about the document. But when Eva and Margaret grow close she begins to feel bad about betraying her new friend and when she gets caught its Margaret who will seal her fate.
Wonderfully written and hard to put down Queen Hereafter is a fantastic read that I highly recommend to any lover of historical fiction! (less)