Source: Purchased copy
Publication: 17 March 2022 from Saraband
Listening Time: 9 hours and 4 minutes
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?
While I would not by any means subscribe to the view that authors are always the best readers of their works, for Olga Wojtas I will always make an exception. This is a series I really enjoy as I follow the misadventures of Shona McMonagle, alumni of Miss Blaine’s School for Girls and our time travelling librarian.
Olga’s rendition of these tales is sheer joy to listen to as she captures the bewilderment of Shona who finds herself cast back in time into the midst of the Scottish play, but without any idea of exactly what it is that Marcia Blane wants her to do.
As she progresses through the story, meeting Macbeth, his wife Gruoch, the three Weird Sisters witches and a black cat called Frank she will find that Miss Blaine has provided some tools in her reticule to help her find her way to the heart of whatever her mission is.
First she meets the three Weird Sisters Ina, Mina and the youngest, Mo. Mo is the more approachable and in trying to help Shona, she inadvertently casts a transformation spell on her, turning her into a mouse. This isn’t great news as she tries to talk her way around Frank the Cat and a particularly hungry owl…
Olga Wojtas Miss Blaine books are full of fascinating (and real) facts, loaded with humour, very silly and enormous fun. They are the perfect antidote to anyone feeling down in the dumps and listening to Shona introducing the concept of Knock -Knock jokes to the Macbeth household is a real delight.
You’ll meet all sorts of historical characters from the era, find out what is the real story behind King Duncan’s death and you’ll learn a lot of esoteric facts into the bargain.
Verdict: If you’re in need of a giggle or even a few belly laughs, this is the literary vehicle to hop onto. It’s witty and erudite and a whole heap of fun. I loved it
Olga Wojtas is an unconventional – and very witty – writer of postmodern 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, has been published in the UK and US to great 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. The third book in the Miss Blaine’s Prefect series, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters, was published in 2022. 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.