From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–Duncan is eager to rise to the call of the fiery cross when the men of clan MacDonald follow their chieftain and Bonnie Prince Charlie into war. His father goes, but permits the 13-year-old and his grandfather to accompany them only as far as the meeting place. They return to the farm bursting with tales of the brave Scottish clansmen and their reverence for the prince. When his cousin Ewan learns of his father's death, he insists on revenge and convinces Duncan to run away with him to war. A bloodbath ensues, Ewan is killed, and Duncan follows the prince into a terrifying battle against the British. Just as families gathered around the hearth when elders shared their tales of war and heroism, Yolen and Harris reward readers with a gripping journey into the Scottish Highlands. The brutality, slaughter, and destruction of war are evident throughout, but some of the history might be difficult for readers to follow unless they read the concluding author's note first. Also, some of the dialect can be a bit daunting. The ending relies heavily on coincidence–prone to fits, Duncan has one that actually saves his life, the spirit of his dead sister is there to help him, and he finds the slain Keppoch's valuable brooch. Still, through authentic voices and vivid description, the Battle of Culloden comes alive in this boy's journey into manhood.–Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-10. Yolen and Harris, who cowrote Queen's Own Fool: A Novel of Mary Queen of Scots
(2000) and Girl in a Cage
(2002), now tell the story of a young highlander who fights for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden. Just 13 and prone to seizures, Duncan is disappointed when he is not allowed to join his father and the other men of the village in answering their clan chief's call to war. But before the year is out, he has shouldered his father's work, suffered the loss of loved ones, fought in a bloody battle, and helped his prince in an unexpected way. The convincing depictions of people and relationships earlier in the story deepen the sense of despair during the battle, which is realistically depicted as cruel, violent, and gory. Structured in three sections, the novel creates a strong sense of life in the Scottish Highlands in 1745-1746, of the carnage at the battle of Culloden, and of Duncan's growing awareness of the world and his place in it. Combining a sensitive portrayal with dramatic tension, Trina Schart Hyman's sensitive jacket art promises exactly what this novel delivers: a spirited historical adventure and a sympathetic hero. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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