Betrayal at Cross Creek

Written by Kathleen Ernst
Review by Lila Asher (age 8) Sue Asher


Twelve-year-old Elspeth Monro has come to North Carolina Colony from Scotland with her grandparents, Angus and Morag MacKinnon. Raised on tales of the battle of Culloden and its aftermath, Elspeth wants nothing more than peace, friendship, and a chance to pursue a weaving apprenticeship. But it is 1775, and her new homeland is awash with Revolutionary fervor. Hoping to avoid being drawn into war, Elspeth’s grandfather refuses to choose sides, but men supporting the patriot cause will not accept his neutrality. As her family is increasingly threatened, Elspeth tries to discover who can be trusted and who cannot. Interestingly, this book presents the patriots in a less than flattering light, and it is their attempts to intimidate Angus MacKinnon that lead him to fight for the loyalists. Elspeth is left behind to care for her grandmother and aunt.

This is a complex book which does not sugarcoat the trials women and children must face when their homes are engulfed by war. It is well written and the mystery – who has betrayed Elspeth’s family – is brought to a convincing, sad conclusion. It is marketed for girls ages 10 and up, but may be too confusing or unsettling for younger children.

Ages 10+



I liked the book Betrayal at Cross Creek because it was very intriguing and mystifying. It had a very good plot. It was scary, sad, happy, and confusing. When Elspeth’s Grandda and cousins go off to war, Grannie starts calling Elspeth “Peggy” – Elspeth’s mother’s name. Her Aunt Mary just gets quiet. And Elspeth keeps seeing Tall Tam McCracken (Grannie says there is “bad blood” between their families) lurking around and “spying” on them. Elspeth feels safe only at her friend Mercy Blair’s house. But then she finds a letter at the Blairs’ house that changes everything. I’d give it an 8 out of 10.