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Review: Lady MacBethad by Isabelle Schuler

Publication date

2 March 2023

Standalone or series


First time reading this author?


Why I picked this

I’ve always felt Lady Macbeth was vilified for ambition that in a man of her time would have been seen as a positive, so I was interested in reading a different take on her story.

Review copy or purchase

Thank you to the author, publisher Raven Books, and online book club The Pigeonhole for the chance to read this. This is an honest and voluntary review.

What it’s about

Gruoch is the daughter of a Scottish noble and granddaughter of a defeated Scottish king. Her druidic grandmother makes a prediction to the young Gruoch which suggests she will regain the monarchy for her line as Queen of Alba (Scotland). Her life is focussed on the achievement of that ambition.


I’m not normally a big fan of historical fiction, but this is a worthy exception.

While there are lots of references to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, this story is based on more of the recorded history than Shakespeare used to build a story which refuted the legitimacy of any counterclaim to the throne of any other family than the ruling King James VI (King James I of England and the union). Of course the written history of that time is so sparse there’s still a heavy dose of dramatic licence to this book.

Gruoch herself embodies all of the ambition you would expect from the young Lady Macbeth of the play. However, instead of a prophecy made to her husband that he would be king, this story centres around a prophecy made to Gruoch that she would rule as Queen. Every decision of her life from then on is focussed on achieving that reality.

Gruoch is a strong-willed woman, but the author is careful to paint her as sympathetic to the extent that her drive to rule comes along with a wish to lead her people and build the place she rules. However, her ability to rationalise away the decisions she makes along the way as necessary steps to achieve the prophecy, do come across as very cold. But, it’s all within the context of a time when the only accepted way a woman could gain power was through who she married.

I really enjoyed the storytelling and development of the characters. Gruoch walks a fine line between being unlikeable for her ambition, naivety about how easily men could remove even the small victories she achieved for herself, and a champion to cheer on.

A great read.




Published by Lisa Potter

A professional communicator who loves reading for leisure and learning.

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