The Darkland Tales

OUT NOW


Shakespeare fed us the myth of the Macbeths as murderous conspirators. But now Val McDermid drags the truth out of the shadows, exposing the patriarchal prejudices of history. Expect the unexpected . . .

A thousand years ago in an ancient Scottish landscape, a woman is on the run with her three companions – a healer, a weaver and a seer. The men hunting her will kill her – because she is the only one who stands between them and their violent ambition. She is no lady: she is the first queen of Scotland, married to a king called Macbeth.

As the net closes in, we discover a tale of passion, forced marriage, bloody massacre and the harsh realities of medieval Scotland. At the heart of it is one strong, charismatic woman, who survived loss and jeopardy to outwit the endless plotting of a string of ruthless and power-hungry men. Her struggle won her a country. But now it could cost her life.



Discover the Darkland Tales from Polygon today.

Polygon’s Darkland Tales see Scotland’s best writers re-imagining stories from the country’s history, myth and legend. This series reclaims history for a modern audience, with Scotland’s greatest contemporary novelists and storytellers taking on the challenge of producing Scottish history 2.0 – a redux of landmark moments from the past, viewed through a modern lens and alive to modern sensibilities.

While each book has a unique voice and distinctive individual identity, the Darkland Tales are united by their punky, anarchic and deliberately in-your-face aesthetic. These books are sharp, provocative and darkly comic, mining that seam of sedition and psychological drama that has always featured in the best of Scottish literature.

 ‘[the Darkland Tales] have already made their mark as essential reading’
The Skinny

‘one of the most rewarding Scottish literary initiatives of recent times’
West Highland Free Press

‘An essential series of books, offering the reader not only exhilarating writing, but fresh insights into the darker corners of Scottish history and the characters found there, all written by some of the finest authors around’
SNACK Magazine

‘By their abbreviated form, taut with tension, and the sheer novelty of their writing, these works refresh the idea of “historical fiction” beyond the conventions of the genre’
The National

‘I love the idea – drinking in historical fiction as a series of shots’
Katherine Faulkner, author of Greenwich Park

‘One of the most interesting developments in Scottish publishing’
The Scotsman


  • Hardback | Pub: 02 May 2024
    £12.00

    Shakespeare fed us the myth of the Macbeths as murderous conspirators. But now Val McDermid drags the truth out of the shadows, exposing the patriarchal prejudices of history. Expect the unexpected . . . A thousand years ago in an ancient Scottish…

  • Paperback | Pub: 03 Feb 2022
    £7.99

    ‘a tour de force work of art’ – The Wall Street Journal, Best Books of the Year Longlisted for the 2022 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award It’s Saturday evening, 9 March 1566, and Mary, Queen of Scots, is six months pregnant….

  • Paperback | Pub: 06 Oct 2022
    £7.99

    A powerfully poignant tale of one of the most turbulent moments in Scotland’s history: the North Berwick Witch Trials. IT’S THE 4TH OF DECEMBER 1591. On this, the last night of her life, in a prison cell several floors below Edinburgh’s…

  • Paperback | Pub: 07 Mar 2024
    £7.99

    Shortlisted for The Winston Graham Historical Fiction Prize and The Highland Book Prize A battle lost. A daring escape. A long walk into obscurity. The ultimate failure… In the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Culloden, a lonely figure takes…

  • Hardback | Pub: 05 Oct 2023
    £10.00

    The Isle of Iona, 825. In a bloody, brutal raid, Abbot Blathmac is slain on the steps of his monastery for refusing to give away the location of the sacred relics of St Columba, the missionary who first brought Christianity to Scotland. Following a…