Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland

Written by Susan Fraser King
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Margaret is a young Saxon princess shipwrecked on the shores of Scotland. The only way that she, her mother, sister and brother, Edgar, once thought to be the next in line for the English throne, will survive is to seek sanctuary from the Scottish king, Malcolm Canmore.

Though trained to be a princess in a much more refined court, Margaret must cope with her brother’s decision to marry her off to Malcolm. Interestingly, what early on is a miserable existence for Margaret becomes her mission – to shape Malcolm into a king respected by foreign princes and governments, to bring Benedictine practices to the Celtic Church and, ultimately, to become beloved queen of her people, the Scots.

The transformation is fascinating, and the reader becomes legitimately enamored of this spirited, yet spiritual woman. Although King frankly admits playing with some dates and some characters, most notably Eva, the young bard who is Macbeth’s granddaughter, sent from Moray by her grandmother, Gruadh (who we know as the cursed Lady Macbeth), the story works well. And, indeed, Margaret does become beloved and ultimately sanctified for her beauty of spirit, love for Malcolm and their children and beatific good deeds. I am still trying to figure out, though, whether King’s decision to focus solely on Margaret’s early years, up to the birth of the third child, is the best telling of Margaret’s tale. Considering that much is known of Margaret’s life and that annals of her deeds were maintained contemporaneously, I concur that there was much more to tell of the earlier part of Margaret’s life, the part that shaped her into the remarkable woman she became.

I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it.