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This title in other editions

The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution


The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution Cover




In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishmentor worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door. 

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the kings men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process. Originally published in the UK, this book has a powerful blend of heart-stopping action and thought-provoking themes.

"Laird celebrates courage, survival, and the spark of independence that carries Maggie through."Publishers Weekly
"Fine and effortless prose, creating instantly gripping characters and setting ."Kirkus Reviews

Chapter 1

I was the first one to see the dead whale lying on the sand at

Scalpsie Bay. It must have been washed up in the night. I could

imagine it flopping out of the sea, thrashing its tail, and opening

and shutting the cavern of its mouth. It was huge and shapeless,

a horrible dead thing, and it looked as if it would feel slimy

if you dared to touch it. I crept up to it cautiously. There were

monsters in the deep, I knew, and a great one, the Leviathan,

which the Lord had made to be the terror of fishermen. Was this

one of them? Would it come to life and devour me?

 The sand was ridged into ripples by the outgoing tide,

which had left the usual orange lines of seaweed and bright

white stripes of shells. The tide had also scooped out little pools

around the dead beasts sides, and crabs were already scuttling

there, as curious as I was.

 It was a cold day in December. The sun had barely risen,

and Id pulled my shawl tightly around my head and shoulders.

But it wasnt only the chill of the wet sand beneath my bare feet

that made me shiver. There was a strangeness in the air.

 Across the water I could already make out the Isle of

Arran, rearing up out of the sea, the tops of its mountains

hidden as usual in a crown of clouds. Id seen Arran a dozen

times a day, every day of my life, each time Id stepped out

the door of my grandmothers cottage. I knew it so well that

I hardly ever noticed it.

 But today as I looked up at the mountains from the dead

whale in front of me, the island seemed to shift, and for a

moment I thought it was moving toward me, creeping across

the water. It was coming for me, wanting to swallow me up,

along with the beach and Grannys cottage, Scalpsie Bay, and

the whole of the Isle of Bute.

 And then beyond Arran, out there in the sea, a shaft of

sunlight pierced through the clouds and laid a golden path

across the gray water, tingeing the dead whale with brilliant

light. The clouds were dazzled with glory, and I was struck with

a terror so great that my legs stiffened and I couldnt move.

 “Its the Lord Jesus,” I whispered. “Hes coming now, to

judge the living and the dead.”

 I waited, my hands clamped in a petrified clasp, expecting

to see Christ walk down the sunbeam and across the water,

angels flying on gleaming wings around him. The minister

had said there would be trumpets as the saved rose up in the

air like flocks of giant birds to meet the Lord, but down here

on the ground there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth

as the damned were sucked into Hell by the Evil One.

 “Am I saved, Lord Jesus? Will you take me?” I cried out

loud. “And Granny too?”

The clouds were moving farther apart, and the golden

path was widening, making the white crests on the little

waves sparkle like the clothes of the Seraphim.

 I was certain of it then. I wasnt one of the Chosen to rise

with Jesus in glory. I was one of the damned, and Granny

was too.

 “No!” I shrieked. “Not yet! Give me another chance,

Lord Jesus!”

 And then I must have fallen down because the next thing

I remember was Granny saying, “Shes taken a fit, the silly

wee thing. Pick her up, wont you?”

 I was only half conscious again, but I knew it was Mr.

Macbeans rough hands painfully holding my arms and the

gruffvoice of Samuel Kirby complaining as he held my legs.

 “What are you doing, you dafties?” Granny shouted in

the rough, angry voice I dreaded. “Letting her head fall back

like that! Trying to break her neck, are you? Think shes a

sack of oatmeal?”

 Behind me, above the crunch of many feet following us up

the beach toward our cottage, I could hear anxious murmurs.

 “The creatures the size of a kirk! And the tail on it, did

you see? Itll stink when it rots. Infect the air for weeks, so

it will.”

 And the sniping tongues were busy as usual.

 “Hark at Elspeth! Shouting like that. Evil old woman.

Why does she want to be so sharp? They should drop the girl

and let the old body carry her home herself.”

 Then came the sound of our own door creaking back on

its leather hinge, the smell of peat smoke, and the soft tail of

Sheba the cat brushing against my dangling hand.

 They dropped me down on the pile of straw in the corner 

that I used as a bed, and a moment later Granny had

shooed them out of the cottage. I was quite back in my wits

by then, and I started to sit up.

 “Stay there,” commanded Granny.

 She was standing over me, frowning as she stared at me.

Her mouth was pulled down hard at the corners, and the

stiffblack hairs on her chin were quivering. They were sharp,

those bristles, but not as sharp as the bristles in her soul.

 “Now then, Maggie. What was all that for? Why did you

faint? What did you see?”

 “Nothing, Granny. The whale . . .”

 She shook her head impatiently.

 “Never mind the whale. While you were away, in the

faint. Was there a vision?”

 “No. I just everything was black. Before that I thought

I saw”

 “What? What did you see? Do I have to pull it out

of you?”

 “The sky looked strange, and there was the whale it scared me

and I thought that Jesus was coming. Down

from the sky. I thought it was the Last Day.”

 She stared at me a moment longer. There wasnt much

light in the cottage, only a square of brightness that came

through the open door and a faint glow from the peat burning

in the middle of the room, but I could see her eyes glittering.

 “The whales an omen. It means no good. It didnt speak

to you?”

  “No! It was dead. I thought the Lord Jesus was coming,

thats all.”

 “Hmph.” She turned away and pulled on the chain that

hung from the rafter, holding the cauldron in place over the

fire. “Thats nothing but kirk talk. Youre a disappointment

to me, Maggie. Your mother had it, the gift of far-seeing,but

youve nothing more in your head than whats been put there

by the minister. Youre your father all over again, stubborn

and blind and selfish. My Mary gave you nothing of herself

at all. If I hadnt delivered you into this world with my own

hands, Id have thought you were changed at birth.”

 Granny knew where to plunge her dagger and twist it

for good measure. There was no point in answering her. I bit

my lip, stood up, and shook the straws offthe rough wool of

my skirt.

 “Shall I milk Blackie now?”

 “After youve touched a dead whale? Youll pass on the

bad luck and dry her milk up for good. Youre more trouble

than youre worth, Maggie. Always were, always will be.”

 “I didnt touch the whale. I only . . .”

 She raised a hand and I ducked.

 “Get away up the hill and cut a sack of peat. The stacks

low already, or had you been too full of yourself to notice?”

 Cutting peat and lugging it home was the hardest work

of all, and usually I hated it, but today, in spite of the rain

that was now sweeping in from the sea, I was glad to get out

of the cottage and run away to the glen. I usually went the long

way, up the firm path that went around and about before it

reached the peat cuttings, but today I plunged straight on

through the bog, trampling furiously through the mass of reeds

and flags and the treacherous bright grass that hid the pools

of water, not hearing the suck of the mud as I pulled my feet

out, not feeling the wetness that seeped up the bottom of my

gown, not even noticing the scratches from the prickly gorse

as it tore at my arms.

 “An evil old woman. They were right down there. Thats

what you are.” Away from Granny, I felt brave enough to answer

back. “I am like my mam. Ive her hair, and her eyes,

and her smile, so Tam says.”

 Most people called old Tam a rogue, a thief, a lying,

drunken rascal, living in his tumbledown shack like a pig in

a sty. But he was none of those things to me. Hed known my

mother, and I knew hed never lie about her to me.

 I dont remember my mother. She was Grannys only child,

and she died of a fever when I was a very little girl. I just about

remember my father. He was a big man, not given to talking

much. He was a rover by nature, Tam said. He came to the Isle

of Bute from the mainland to fetch the Laird of Keamess cattle

and drive them east across the hills to sell in Glasgow. He was

only meant to stay in Bute for a week or two, while the cattle

were rounded up for him, but he chanced on my mother as she

walked down the lane to the field to milk Blackie one warm

June evening. The honeysuckle was in flower and the wild roses

too, and it was all over with him at once, so Tam said.

  “Never a love like it, Maidie,” Tam told me. “Dont you

listen to your granny. A child born of love you are, given to

love, made for love.”

 “Granny said the sea took my father,” I asked Tam once.

“What did she mean?”

 Id imagined a great wave curling up the beach, twining

around my fathers legs, and sucking him back into the depths.

 “An accident, Maidie. Nothing more.” Tam heaved a sigh.

“Your father was taking the cattle to the mainland up by Colintraive,

making them swim across the narrows there. Hed done

it a dozen times before. The beasts werent easy lively young

 steers they were and one of them was thrashing about in

the water as if a demon possessed it. Perhaps a demon did,

for the steer caught your father on the head with its horn, and

it went right through his temple. He went down under the

water, and when he was washed up a week later, there was a

wound from his eyebrow to the line of his hair deep enough

to put your hand inside.”

Product Details

Gardner, Sally
Laird, Elizabeth
Historical - Europe
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Family - Parents
Adventure and adventurers
Fantasy & Magic
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7 to 12
8.56x6.00x1.23 in. 1.05 lbs.
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Young Adult » General

The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Dial Books - English 9780803731004 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Set during the French Revolution, Gardner's (I, Coriander) epic and tautly plotted tale engages readers from the start with its combination of romance and history, mystery and magic. Yann Magoza, an orphan, travels with entertainers who use supernatural powers in their act; Yann himself can read minds. As the novel opens, Yann and his companions are brought to a marquis's chateau, where Yann has a brief but fateful meeting with the foolish and cruel marquis's brave daughter, Sidonie, and where the marquis's associate, a scheming count, brutally but cleverly murders one of the magicians. The pace retains this thrilling momentum all the way through the heart-stopping climax. As Gardner slowly discloses Yann's and Sido's heritages, she ratchets up tension about the marquis's and the count's plans for Sido. She lards her story with intriguing details, like the red garnet necklaces left like signatures with a series of murder victims, and 'threads of light' that make Yann's magic possible. The novel also paints vivid, convincing pictures of the Revolution: characters glimpse the massed thousands of Parisian women marching to Versailles, pitchforks in hand, demanding bread, and mobs setting upon suspected aristocrats. Suspenseful, complex and haunting. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , From the author of the award-winning "I, Coriander" comes an exciting, romantic novel set against the feverish backdrop of the French Revolution.
"Synopsis" by ,
A mysterious gypsy boy, Yann Margoza, and his guardian, a dwarf, work for the magician Topolain in 1789. On the night of Topolain's death, Yann's life truly begins. That's when he meets Sido, an heiress with a horrible father. An attachment is born that will determine both their paths. Revolution is afoot in France, and Sido is being used as a pawn. Only Yann will dare to rescue her from a fearful villain named Count Kalliovski. It will take all of Yann's newly discovered talent to unravel the mysteries of Sido's past and his own and to fight the devilish count.
"Synopsis" by ,
In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishmentor worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door. 

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the kings men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process. Originally published in the UK, this book has a powerful blend of heart-stopping action and thought-provoking themes.

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