Interactive Historical Fiction e-books

Holdfast by John and Patricia Beatty


This richly plotted historical novel has two leading characters: Catriona, an Irish girl orphaned in 1601 during one of the continual wars, and Holdfast, her magnificent wolfhound.  Kidnapped by an Englishman, Catriona and her dog are forcibly removed from the wild Irish countryside to the England of Elizabeth I.  There they part ways and the story traces their separate adventures.

Catriona’s fate is to become the ward of a titled English family, who seek to train her as a proper English lady.  She puts up a lively opposition to their efforts, but events are beyond her control.  Elsewhere Holdfast also struggles to adjust to a new environment, ending up in the hands of a butcher who trains him in bear and bull baiting.  In fact, Holdfast’s involvement in this sport leads to the final dramatic scene! 

For readers age 12 and older.


At the death of the Red Earl, Catriona and her guardian/companion Irish wolfhound Manus are shipped to England as prizes of war, where they become, respectively, Lady Catherine, the unwilling ward of the avaricious Latimers and Holdfast, London’s champion bearbaiter. The wild Irish in Catriona can’t accept the prospect of being married off to foppish Robert Latimer, but freedom comes as a boon from Queen Elizabeth who’s much impressed by the spunky Catriona’s resemblance to her and by Holdfast’s gentleness in her presence (not realizing that the dog has been trained to chivalry).
— Kirkus Reviews
A historical novel set in the England of Elizabeth I, the book is alive with the ambience of the times. Catriona, an Irish girl, orphaned at the age of 12, is brought to England. She is accompanied by her massive Irish wolfhound, and the dog becomes ‘Holdfast’, a champion bear baiter.
— Publishers Weekly
This was one of my favorite books by authors John & Patricia Beatty. I credit Catriona and Manus with stirring my life-long curiosity about history, culture and the world that has evolved around us. Interactive ebooks can deepen the reader’s curiosity even further through the use of illustrations, maps and pop-up windows that bring key people, words and ideas to life.
— HistoricalFictionBuff