Shona McMonagle, or Miss Blaine’s Prefect, is one of the most memorable characters I’ve read about over the past few years. Olga Wojtas writes in such a witty way that I always enjoy her books. This time Shona finds herself contending with the Weird Sisters in the time of Macbeth. Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and for arranging a review copy of the book. Miss Blaine’s Prefect and The Weird Sisters is published by Saraband Books and is available now.
About the Book
Fifty-something librarian Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name. Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a crucial mission involving Macbeth, the weird sisters and a black cat.
Unsure which version of history she’s in, Shona tries to figure out who she’s here to save. But between playing the Fool and being turned into a mouse, things don’t always go her way. Shona’s expertise in martial arts is put to the test as family tensions rise and fingers are pointed for murder. Can Shona unravel the mystery in time to complete her mission?
Never underestimate a librarian!
Well, I think this may be my favourite of Shona’s outings so far. Right from the first page I was smiling at Olga Wojtas’s droll and playful writing as Shona finds herself suddenly transformed into a mouse trying to explain to a swooping owl why it really shouldn’t eat her since she’s actually a librarian.
Shona, as always, finds herself somewhat unsure of the mission that Miss Blaine has sent her on but is quite delighted to find herself in the Scotland of Macbeth’s era. This is something she knows a lot about (is there anything she doesn’t know a lot about?) and one thing she knows for sure is that Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth is far from the truth. I couldn’t wait to find out what kind of tricky and dangerous situations Shona would get herself into this time.
The three witches, or wise women as Shona prefers to call them, are great characters. I was particularly impressed with the way that whenever they appeared, the older sisters Ina and Mina spoke in rhyme. Their younger sister, Mo, can’t rhyme too well but knows her way around a spell. Oh dear – I seem to have been influenced by the book!
There are many characters you will be familiar with whether from actual history or Shakespeare’s version. There’s Macbeth and his wife of course but also his lesser known brother. And just who was Frank the cat in real life I wondered? I enjoyed spotting the Shakespeare and historical references and despite being in 11th century Scotland, Shona still manages to make her distaste for those from the west very clear.
It was fun following Shona’s exploits and I wondered what effect Shona’s well intentioned meddling would have. Would she accidentally change the course of history? Well, at one point it wasn’t looking good. “This was getting worse than I feared. Not only had Scottish history turned into a Shakespeare play, it had turned into an inaccurate Shakespeare play.”
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and The Weird Sisters is a light-hearted, comical and highly entertaining read. If you read the book, you will find out what I mean when I say I was as happy as a shoe reading this one!
Buying link: Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters
About the Author
Olga Wojtas is an unconventional – and very witty – writer of postmodern cosy crime fiction whose surrealist humour has been compared to the likes of PG Wodehouse, Jasper Fforde and the Marx Brothers. Her debut novel, ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar’, was published in the UK and US to critical acclaim – being longlisted for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019, shortlisted for a CrimeFest Award, and named as one of the best mysteries and thrillers of the year by Kirkus . A journalist for more than 30 years, Olga was Scottish editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement before she began adding creative writing to her portfolio. She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015 and has had numerous short stories and several novellas published. Olga’s second novel, ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace’, was published in 2020 and longlisted for that year’s Comedy Women in Print Prize. She lives in Edinburgh, where she once attended James Gillespie’s High School – the model for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, which appears in Muriel Spark’s ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’, the novel that inspired the ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect’ series. She is president of the Edinburgh Writer’s Club.