Queen Macbeth by Val McDermid

As part of Stratford Literary Festival (which is officially one of my favourite events of the calendar), I went to listen to Val McDermid talk about her new book, ‘Queen Macbeth’. And we were lucky enough to hear this talk in Holy Trinity Church – right next to the grave of the Bard himself, Shakespeare. Val McDermid offered a great talk about her writing process and how she constructs her crime stories, for which she is probably most famous, but also shared her writing process for her new novel – and how Shakespeare got it wrong.

I found ‘Queen Macbeth’ a fantastic read. It is interesting to have a chance to try and understand some of the complex history of Scotland. It did take me a little while to understand which character was which (other than those who are famous or infamous). However, the storytelling itself was beautifully constructed and easy to understand once you got the thread. I enjoyed the fact that it was told through a dual timeline so we could see what had led to the moment we were reading about, which really added to the context of the story.

I am not going to give away any spoilers (other than that Shakespeare clearly constructed the story for his audience, which we all know is true; he wrote what he knew would be appreciated at the time), but I would really recommend reading this to give yourself some understanding of the actual Scottish history and who those important figures were. Plus, Queen Macbeth is a fantastically strong woman, and not the fanatic that we may have been introduced to before.

If you enjoy the writing of Val McDermid, then you will enjoy this book, and I would recommend you pick it up and try something a little different.