Lady Macbeth’s Daughter
In her third historical for teens, Lisa Klein offers a new take on Macbeth’s bloody rise to power through the alternating narratives of his wife and daughter. Klein takes inspiration from the line Shakespeare wrote for Lady Macbeth – “I have given suck, and know / How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me . . .” (I, vii, 54-55) – and gives us Albia, a child destined for death by exposure because she isn’t the son Macbeth craves.
Rather than dying, Albia is raised by three sisters (yes, those sisters). In Klein’s version, one of them is Lady Macbeth’s handmaiden, and she facilitates Albia’s fosterage in Wychelm Wood. As a child Albia witnesses the sisters’ prophecy that Macbeth will be king, but it is much later, when she is fostered in the house of Banquo, that she learns Macbeth is her father. Through visions she sees a terrible future for Scotland at his hands and must decide whether to let this future unfold or to take part in reshaping it.
Klein transports the reader to 11th-century Scotland with her vivid descriptions of ancient landscapes, belief systems, and conflicts. Albia is a sympathetic child who matures into a compelling heroine. The plot, which moves along at a good clip, is packed with suspense. Occasionally the momentum falters during Lady Macbeth’s narratives. Klein encourages sympathy by connecting the woman’s instability to maternal grief, but I often wished her narratives would end so that we could return to Albia. The interactions between Albia and Fleance feature some crackling chemistry, but their leap from animosity to love could have been more convincing. Nevertheless, the story oozes atmosphere and tension, and it’s sure to entertain readers 14 and up, especially if they have some familiarity with Shakespeare’s Macbeth.