Mary rides again
The Raven’s Heart
by Jesse Blackadder
Fourth Estate, $32.99 pb, 459 pp, 9780732291884
Mary Queen of Scots, widow of the youthful French king, returns from her long exile in France to a country bereft of pageantry. A young messenger, Robert, gallops through the deserted streets of Edinburgh announcing her contentious return. When Robert’s horse is offered as royal transport to the palace, the flame-haired Mary rejects the side saddle, saying, ‘In France a queen rides astride.’ This moment telegraphs the pre-occupations of Jesse Blackadder’s second novel, The Raven’s Heart, in which history, invention, gender, sexuality, power, expectation, and reality collide.