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'Instantly gripping ... a tale which seamlessly blends thought-provoking politics with a white-knuckle adventure story. Riveting stuff.'

Big Issue

'This is one of the best books to come from Scotland in ages and ages. It goes beyond adventure and deals with a lot of family, political and social issues. I think James Jauncey is definitely going to write lots more good novels.'

Aidan Turner, Lenzie Academy

Sunday Herald


'THE WITNESS is a rare kind of adventure -  a page-turner that is also well written and bursting with ideas. If I were a rich man I'd be putting in a bid for the film rights straight away.'

David Robinson


'THE WITNESS is different from any other books that I have read. It was intriguing to read as it is set in the near future and it was shocking to see what could happen to Scotland or any other country that tries to redress the social balance without thinking through the consequences. It also showed what can happen when the government interferes too much. I loved this book also because there are not enough books written for my age group that really make you think. There is a brilliant twist at the end of the book that leaves you wanting more. I am looking forward to the next one.'

Jack Lindsay

(aged 14)


'It's a fiercely provocative vision of a possible Scotland. What Jauncey portrays so well are John's ambiguous loyalties to the mysterious boy and to the changing world around him. At its heart the book is a compelling quest for kinship that will reward thoughtful readers.'

Keith Gray



'Politics, suspense and compassion abound in The WITNESS...'

Gillian Macdonald
Times Educational Supplement Scotland


'THE WITNESS is a powerful, challenging read that doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of life and death, yet manages to retain all the pace and excitement of a John Buchan adventure. The portrayal of the politics of land ownership and clearance, in a future Scotland wrecked by the effects of global warming, is grim but not heavy-handed. There is plenty here to keep you page-turning even while some of the deeper themes of the story - trust, kindness, loyalty, the rejection of violence - work away at a subtler level. A really grown-up book for young adult readers.'

James Robertson

author of The Testament of Gideon Mack


'I finished the book yesterday and rate it very highly.  Cracking plot and the character of John was just spot on ... it really is a stonking good read.  Come August it will certainly be on my recommendation list.'

Yvonne Rosie

Waterstone's Aviemore


'A breath of Highland fresh air ...'

Scotland on Sunday


'THE WITNESS was a wonderful read. Jauncey has created a marvellous hero in John MacNeil.... It's pacy, it's urgent, the action is compelling. But THE WITNESS is considerably more than a genre thriller... It's tremendously thought-provoking, it asks the biggest of questions - is any cause worth dying for? Is any cause worth killing for? At what point is it right to sacrifice principle to practicality... But what it does that I most admired is to encourage political participation. Dull as ditchwater citizenship lessons are unlikely to persuade apathetic teenagers to make their first cross on the ballot paper, but reading books like  this will open up ideas and possibilities that will.'

Jill Murphy


'James Jauncey writes with a sensitive toughness, avoiding any sentimentality though he shows a deep understanding of his troubled young protagonist. His sense of pace and timing is impeccable.'

Carnegie Medal winning author Alison Prince


'I thought that THE WITNESS was a compelling read backed up by a great, original idea with great complex characters ... a man and a boy darting through the highlands of Scotland, running for their lives ... the scenes which involve them cantering across the wilderness were absolutely amazing. To be perfectly honest, the early stages of THE WITNESS were better than the likes of Kidnapped, as it was much more fast-paced and engaging ...  All in all, this was a great read and sits high up there with the likes of Kidnapped and Tolkien. And Iím not just saying that.'

Patrick Wallace

 (aged 14)


'The bond between John and Ninian is at the heart of the novel but is only one of its many layers, all of them convincingly coalescing in a skilfully paced plot: history, politics, environment and first intimations of sexual awareness are all here . all explored with intelligence and a keen eye and ear for the details of local colour. Warmly recommended.'

School Librarian


'Jauncey has succeeded in producing a thought provoking, highly suspenseful, and often poignant story. Very appealing for a wide range of readers, from adolescents to adults. I thoroughly enjoyed it.'



'I liked THE WITNESS a lot and would recommend it to others.'

Matthew Dawson

Teen Titles


'Tense, multi-layered and beautifully written, THE WITNESS is a gripping novel of adventure which is rooted in the history of its setting - the magnificent landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. Set in the future, it describes a country riven yet again by occupation and disastrous land reform, calling to mind Scotland's experience after the Jacobites. But while Jauncey deftly touches the keys of social and historical resonance, creating layers of meaning and depth, his attention to the business of the storyteller never wavers. This is a 21st Century adventure in the best traditions of Kidnapped or John McNab, an edge-of-your-seat scramble across some of the wildest country on earth, enlivened by the unlikely friendship at its core between John, innocently caught up in cold-blooded murder, and Ninian, the strange, damaged boy who is much more than he seems. Rich in atmosphere and incident, given weight and depth by the beautifully observed growth of friendship in adversity, THE WITNESS is a thriller which transcends the genre to take in highly topical reflections on the ties that bind us to landscape, history and each other.'

Marc Lambert

Scottish Book Trust

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'A really grown-up book for young adult readers'
James Robertson, author of The Testament of Gideon Mack