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New children’s book by popular Inverness writer is released today

By Federica Stefani

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Barbara Henderson with her new book.
Barbara Henderson with her new book.

A new historical novel will take young readers back in time with an adventure set during the times of Mary Queen of Scots.

The Boy, the Witch and the Queen of Scots by teacher and two-time winner of the Historical Association’s Young Quills Award Barbara Henderson has been released today (April 11).

The novel is set in 1562, when the queen visited Inverness and was refused entry to the castle.

“I am delighted to focus on Mary, Queen of Scots,” said Ms Henderson.

“There is no shortage of non-fiction on her, but I wanted to bring her to life on the page during the early years of her reign.

“Mary Queen of Scots was not always destined to be the tragic figure that we recognise now. In my book, she is newly widowed, yes. But she is also young, adventurous and keen to make a success of her life going forward.”

The author often walked her dog to the castle before refurbishments started.
The author often walked her dog to the castle before refurbishments started.

The release date also marks the second anniversary of work commencing on Inverness Castle's refurbishment

“Of course it wasn't the same castle,” Ms Henderson explains.

“The current castle building only dates from the 1830s, but there was a castle on this site then, too – and defying the orders of the Queen was a very grave offence.

“I thought it would be interesting to throw a young falconer boy into the turbulent times of Reformation Scotland, and to shine a light on the fact that Mary Queen of Scots travelled north as far as Aberdeen and Inverness. She is often only associated with places like Holyrood, Linlithgow or Stirling. The book is very much a historical adventure story, but based on real events and people too.”

“At the time, the tragic queen was still a teenager, newly arrived from exile in France and faced with a revolt from a formidable opponent: the 4th Earl of Huntly George Gordon, known as 'Cock o' the North' on account of his extravagant lifestyle. The Earl's unfortunate relative, who was in charge of Inverness Castle, paid for his defiance with his life.”

Ms Henderson's previous books include the prize-winning The Chessmen Thief and The Siege of Caerlaverock, for which she won the Young Quills Award from the Historical Association.

A free family event to launch the book with games and interactive activities will take place at Waterstones Inverness at 11 am on April 20.

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