Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Length: 494 pages | 13 hours 48 minutes
Source: Received in Uppercase box (one of my favorite book subscription boxes!)
Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?
This was perhaps the most-voted book during my Book Reaping last year, and countless numbers of reader friends recommended it to me. So I’m glad I only waited this long to read it, and not longer (as I’ve done with so many others). Friends, you are wise!
My Lady Jane is a fantastical romp through an actual period of history- post-Henry VIII, his sickly son Edward (Katherine Parr’s child) had the throne relatively briefly, then changed the line of succession to hand it to his cousin Jane Grey, who had it for all of nine days before Mary (Catherine of Aragon’s child) took it, beheaded Jane, and then proceeded on her “Bloody Mary” reign (where she slaughtered non-Catholics like it was going out of style). The authors, inspired by the actual Jane Grey’s bookishness, intelligence, and sassiness, wanted to create a happier ending for her. So they turned it into a historical fantasy, with magic as well as actual historical figures and events. I’m not sure I’ve ever before read a historical fantasy that melded actual history with highly fantastical elements, so that was a fun new thing.
This book is filled with self-aware humor. The authors break the third wall, the characters are glib (although they also show growth and development throughout the book), and the violence and sex themes are ridiculously light considering the actual history (e.g., no one gets beyond kissing and they BARELY get there) so those never overtake the light-heartedness of the book. Given that I like that style of self-aware humor (Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder, Bren Tripp’s The Accidental Highwayman, anything by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman, etc.), the writing was right up my alley.
It’s also fairly seamless- always a nice thing when the book is co-authored. Each author took a character, so the chapters vary in narrative voice. But the voice is consistent, and there’s nothing contradictory in the weaving of all three MCs.
If you enjoy both historical fiction and fantasy (and you like the contemporary themes of feminism, and tongue-in-cheek humor), I recommend this. I think Disney fans would enjoy it as well, overall (Gracie just constantly struck me as Merida or Mulan, Jane struck me as Tiana in many ways). I found it a breath of fresh air in my reading schedule, and had fun playing “spot the pop culture or Shakespeare reference”.