I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.
Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.
I don’t think there’s been a co-author combination I’ve ever been this excited about. Having read Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows’s individual works and liking all of what I’ve read meant that this book shot up to the top of my wishlist the instant I heard about it. It doesn’t hurt that I have a soft spot for historical fiction – especially when it concerns the Tudors. So yeah, this book had all the ingredients to be amazing… and it was.
The premise will let you know that this story concerns Jane Grey, a very real person from history, but that this take on her story is also, well, not really that true. This is historical fantasy, so that much is obvious. In this version of history, shifters exist called eδians (pronounced “ethians”). Not everyone has this ability, but those that do have an animal form that they can transition into, usually at will. For example, Henry VIII was a lion. And when he went into rages he had a tendency to, ahem, “eat the messenger”. Yeah, this isn’t a serious kind of fantasy or historical fiction. Indeed, you’ll be laughing quite a lot.
Generally, I was instantly excited about this combination of authors, but I did fear that maybe the writing styles could get a bit choppy or possibly not mesh well – something I’ve had happen before with co-authored books. But that was absolutely not the case. I loved these authors individually already, but the combination is immaculate. The wit is pretty much tripled any usual amount you would expect from a book. And it is in fact the writing style that makes this book so, so enjoyable. The authors break the fourth wall at times to have witty asides with the readers. They make pop culture references and take famous quotes and put them into their story. It’s like 10,000 Easter eggs hidden for the pop culture geeks to find, and I was cracking up left, right, and center. (Jane adamantly rejecting an invitation to a Red Wedding? Flawless.) This book is hilarious.
That does mean, however, that to enjoy this book, you really need to let go of historical accuracy. In my opinion, the writing style and humorous tone makes that immensely easy to do, but other readers might have a bit of trouble. Aside from that, I feel like the fantasy element made it work as well. Instead of religion being the number one conflict of the day, you have the eδians, backed by Edward (son of Henry VIII) and Jane, fighting for equality and the right to live freely, and the Verities, led by Mary I, who believe them to be impure and that they need to be purged. It made for an interesting and believable dynamic with complex ethical conundrums, and I quite liked hearing the Janies interpretations of certain events – disregarding some elements and putting a twist on others.
Then, of course, it’s also the characters that make this story golden. This cast is basically perfection. Jane and Gideon are the main ship, who are forced to marry at the start of the book by the wishes of Edward, Jane’s cousin. He intends to name her sons his heirs – so yeah, there’s a lot of political maneuvering in this story. Particularly also because Jane doesn’t even know that Gideon is… a horse. It being an arranged marriage that starts of with secrets and distrust means that they don’t exactly like each other very much at the beginning. But then they have the loveliest of slow burns and gradually become friends, and then… well. Read and find out 😉
It’s not only that romance that is utterly wonderful though. The friendship between Jane and Edward is adorable. Pet is so loyal and cute. Gracie is awesome and just cool beyond words. Gran and Bessie and Mary, Queen of Scots… Gah! I love them all so much.
The mark of a truly excellent book, to me, is that I can get so utterly lost and swept up in it that I loathe putting the book down and just want to zip right through it. And so it was with My Lady Jane. The story is so compelling, the writing style is so witty, fluid, and accessible, and though it was over 500 pages, I was done before I knew it. The entertainment value of this book is extremely high – one of the best I’ve read in years.