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Scabby Queen Review

Scabby Queen

Kirstin Innes

Scabby Queen is the story of fictional folk musician and one-hit wonder Clio Campbell. The book opens with her suicide and the story of her life is told by multiple characters from her past and present, but never by Clio herself. Some of the characters know her well and we hear from them throughout the book and some are a more fleeting encounter.

Cover of Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes

Clio is feminist, feisty and always championing a cause. She shot to fame with her hit Rise Up – protesting against the unpopular poll tax. Her causes change through her life – she becomes involved in the political lives of those living in a Brixton squat, brings her music to the people with a village hall tour of tiny highland towns, protests the G8 in Genoa, the Iraq war, Brexit and campaigns for Scottish independence. Every cause she’s fully immersed, it’s always brought back to the political and she’s desperate for everyone to care as much as she does.

As you learn more about her, you discover a vulnerable, complicated, unhappy woman behind the facade, who doesn’t seem quite sure what she’s aiming for and therefore never quite gets what she wants.

This book will make you think – Clio lives life feeling deeply & always fighting against the next injustice. As she ages it appears she’s judged more for not changing, toning down and conforming to society’s expectations of women.

If you enjoy feisty characters and a thought provoking read, then I highly recommend this book. As one of the characters, Neil says: “We all have our different memories of Clio.” Ultimately it’s interesting to see how everyone has a different relationship with and a different understanding of Clio – all drawn in by her irresistible personality.


Cosy wee reads is all about celebrating Scottish fiction and the book mentioned in this blog post is the type of fiction you can expect to find in a cosy wee reads surprise book gift. You can find out more about monthly subscriptions and one-off book gifts here.

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