Happy Sunday/first of May, guys!
Today, we're reviewing My Lady Jane, one of my favorite books of 2016.
(Yup, I'm calling it already - sorry!)
Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows have written a funny, touching story reimagining Lady Jane Grey's life, in a tale that will SERIOUSLY make readers beg for more in this world.
Expected publication: June 7th 2016 by HarperTeen
Format read: ARC via Publisher
At least until she loses her head.
In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, true love, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
Authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows bring us back to the English court, in the years following King Henry VIII's death. Edward is now king, but suffering from a grave and mysterious illness. As a result, he appoints cousin Lady Jane Grey as his direct successor, with the understanding that she is to get married to Gifford Dudley.
Though the bookish Jane is reluctant to be married to someone who doesn't seem to appreciate her literary ways or her personality, she quickly learns that Gifford has a secret of his own...
So I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that My Lady Jane has the counterfactual fun of Shakespeare in Love and the magic of Ladyhawke rolled into one. (Sidenote: if you haven't seen Ladyhawke yet, DO!)
The Lady Jane authors introduce us to a world where England is dominated by magic, and practitioners have the ability to turn into animals. However, this leads the nation to be divided into pro and anti-magic users, and it's with that premise that we delve into the story of one Lady Jane Grey.
Rather than the anonymous figure in history that we largely know her to be, the Lady Jane authors give their version of Jane Grey a fully fleshed-out background, as a book lover and great cousin/friend to the ailing King Edward. Though she's content to live her life out amongst books, she becomes a political accomplice when Edward makes her the successor to the throne.
The Lady Jane authors do a beautiful job of showing the innate struggle involved with the decision, including the reluctance of Edward - who has always valued the love of his cousin, and grapples with the idea of her belonging to another- and Jane's own innate struggle between wanting to please her cousin and desiring her own life. It's a beautiful examination of the sacrifices that are made for the greater good in cases like these, and also a nod into just how strong Jane is, as she accepts a decision that is beyond her control.
Though the marriage isn't what Jane expects, the Lady Jane authors do a nice job of showing how circumstance begin driving Gifford and Jane closer together. There's a mutual respect that initially develops as they struggle with the idea of being pawns in courtly intrigue, and the respect eventually turns into a nice, well-rounded love. It's a classic example of a slow burn, and readers will absolutely adore watching their relationship develop each step of the way.
While the story develops in a way that splinters off from the British history of our world, it's the type of ending that readers will appreciate. I closed the book with a smile on my face, and I believe other readers will do the same.
The Lady Jane authors have created a world that is not only fascinating, but is also introduced to us by a heroine who is brave, funny and smart. Jane proves that bookish heroines are just as brave, lovable and spirited as her husband, and it's truly a perfect match. Throw in the court intrigue and the royal drama, and I can pretty much guarantee that readers will be up reading all night.
This is a funny, clever tale that is sure to delight readers who are fans of both historical fiction and fantasy. Highly recommend for all readers, full stop.
As a bonus, I'm including two jars from my favorite candy store. It seems fitting to have something sweet while reading such a sweet, funny story, so why not? :)
About the authors:
Learn more at www.ladyjanies.com.