Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sackier

Pages: 384
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.  Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.  Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex.   Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?   In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes."
It's 18th century Scotland and it's a time of great upheaval.  Jenna's family support the exiled King James Stuart and want him to retake the British Throne. Jenna's family are Jacobites, which means they King James is the rightful heir.  Also, Jenna and her family are Freemasons and are hired by the Duke of Keswick to build a garrison. This is ironic as the garrison is supposed to protect the Duke and his family from people just like Jenna's family.  Jenna's family is planning to use this situation to their advantage, but things never go smoothly. For starters, Jenna meets the Duke's son, Lord Pembroke, and sparks fly.  But this isn't good as it throws a wrench in Jenna's family's plans; plus, what if Lord Pembroke finds out who Jenna truly is and what her family is really up to? Shelley Sackier's The Freemason's Daughter is a historical novel with a lot of promise, but unfortunately, it was just an ok read for me.

Jenna MacDuff is a great character in The Freemason's Daughter and one of the reasons I stuck with the book.  She is educated much more than the average female for the time period and has learned the King's English, thanks to her parents.  But Jenna isn't rich by any means, she lives a life on the run as a Jacobite.  Her relationship with the brooding Lord Pembroke should be seriously compelling, but for me, it lacks that major spark. So if you thought you'd find a mini Claire and Jamie here, look elsewhere.

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the setting of Scotland and the time period of the early 18th century.  It's a really interesting time in history and of course any novel set in Scotland will be compelling, at least to me. So, in this sense the novel worked for me.

Despite the feisty protagonist and an interesting setting, The Freemason's Daughter fell flat.  It started off really, really slow and I will admit things do pick up, but it takes time.  There is a mystery that provides some suspense and there's the whole forbidden romance going on, but by the time you get on board and speed picks up, things quickly come to an end. I think I am still processing the ending as well.

So, with all the Outlander-esque YA novels coming out this year, I'd have to say that they have some big shoes to fill.  Although The Freemason's Daughter had a lot of potential, it was just a middle of the road read for me. Are you looking for a young Jamie Fraser? Look elsewhere.


  1. That's really too bad. Of course nothing could really be like Outlander. Same thing happened when publishers were touting books that were supposed to be like Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones.

    Jenna sounds like an interesting character and that time period would be fascinating but it is a shame that the book didn't live up to expectations for you.

    1. Yes, I get so nervous when publisher say a book is similar to another popular book. Sometimes they are right, but more times than not they are wrong. This has no time travel and no great love by any means. The only similarity is the setting/Jacobites. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

  2. I always get really nervous when I see the comparison to Outlander. YA Outlanders are kind of hard to do. Sounds like this one didn't quite live up to that. I do like that this one is just historical fiction. That interests me more than some of the time travel ones. It sounds like there were some good things about it. I'm glad you mostly enjoyed it. Great review.
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    1. Me too. I am a sucker for that description, because I think that an Outlander YA would be successful, but usually they are just ok reads. Yes, I think it worked that the author left out time travel, but the romance was really lacking. Overall, I am glad I read it, but it wasn't my favorite book of the month by any means. Thanks for visiting, Cassi!

  3. I'm a little disappointed that this turned out to be dud. It was on my wishlist for April. I rarely have the patience for slow moving plots these days, so I'm probably going to pass.

    1. Yeah, I don't blame you. I am reading many reviews with the same feedback. So much potential though! Thanks for visiting, Joy!


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