Fir for Luck by Barbara Henderson

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I met lovely Barbara Henderson at an event in Edinburgh organised by fellow blogger Joanne (whose blog is here), and I was struck by what a vibrant and engaging person Barbara was. So it gives me enormous pleasure to be reviewing her children’s story Fir for Luck today. Fir for Luck is published by Cranachan on 21st September 2016 and is available for pre-order here.

Fir for Luck

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Would you be brave enough to fight back? 

When 12-year-old Janet’s village is under threat– she decides to take action.

It’s a split-second decision that could cost her everything: her home, her family – even her life.

Can Janet save her village from being wiped out? Or will her family and friends be forced from their homes to face an uncertain future?

Based on real life events, Fir for Luck is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances, when land owners cared more about sheep than people.

My Review of Fir for Luck

12 year-old Janet’s village is under threat – but she’s not going to be evicted without a fight.

I absolutely loved Fir for Luck by Barbara Henderson and whilst it is predominantly written for children I don’t see why they should have all the enjoyment.

Fir for Luck is a completely compelling, interesting story and all the more so because it is based in facts surrounding the Scottish land clearance of the 1800s. What Barbara Henderson has done, is take these facts and weave them into a spellbinding story that echoes the past in a vibrant and exciting plot. Although the timescale is relatively tight, apart from a few flashbacks to the very beginning of the century, the pace is breakneck and I found myself as breathless as Janet on occasion.

Janet herself is a triumph of a character. Strong willed and charismatic, her first person telling of the story is completely engaging and she is a wonderful role model for girls (and boys) everywhere. I also loved Wee Donald as, through him, readers can appreciate those with a disability have equal value to everyone else. Indeed, there are so many themes that underpin the story that would appeal to children and adults alike. Barbara Henderson explores life and death, loyalty and love, moral and legal right, violence and peace and national pride without the reader really realising she has done so. This is such skilful writing.

However, what I enjoyed most, I think, about Barbara Henderson’s writing is the authentic voice she has. The prose reflects the time in which the book is set in a natural and believable fashion. The tone is perfect. The descriptions transport the reader to Ceannabeinne and to the era effortlessly so that it feels as if you’re part of the history and not simply reading a narrative.

This might be a book aimed at children, but this 50+ middle aged woman was entirely captivated by it and I’m not ashamed to say I even shed a tear at the end. I cannot recommend Fir for Luck highly enough.

About Barbara Henderson

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Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.

Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition.

You can find out more by following Barbara on Twitter and reading her blog.

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