My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, Young Adult
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?
“For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door. And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.”
Yes…this is how My Lady Jane starts off, right from the dedication page you already know you are in for a treat. During every single moment of reading this book, I was completely and utterly in love with it. It made me snicker, giggle, laugh uncontrollably, shout, hiss, and huzzah…sometimes in public. Writing this review has been excruciatingly hard because I can’t simply just GUSH all my feelings about this witty and funny book all over the screen without giving away far more than I should. Also, mere words truly can not express how lovely and refreshing it was to read a book that I absolutely 110% loved everything about from start to finish. Thank you, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows for crafting such a perfect book.
This is the story of Lady Jane Grey, but with a few tweaks, and some magic…because of course magic makes everything better, and potentially can alter a hum-ho tale that ends in beheadings into an epic adventure filled with hilarity, love, and absurdities (fans of the Princess Bride will most definitely approve of this book). In other words, perfection. The humor in this book is absolutely spot on as are the many puns, the quotes in this book are brilliant works of art. Yes, three authors wrote this deliciously cheeky book, but their voices are so well integrated and on point that it is a completely smooth transition from one chapter to the next which are written in the point of view of the three main characters Jane, Edward, and Gifford.
I loved how little side comments were added between the storyline to give you a little glimpse of what he authors were thinking, or intending….
“You may think you know the story. It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a sixteen-year-old girl named Jane Grey, who was forced to marry a complete stranger (Lord Guildford or Gilford or Gifford-something-or-other), and shortly thereafter found herself ruler of a country. She was queen for nine days. Then she quite literally lost her head.
Yes, it’s a tragedy, if you consider the disengagement of one’s head from one’s body tragic. (We are merely narrators, and would hate to make assumptions as to what the reader would find tragic.)
We have a different tale to tell.”
“(Okay, so we told you that anybody could die at any time, and you seem like you’re getting worried, but Pet’s fine. <…> Trust us: we’re not the type of narrators who would kill a dog.)”
I loved Lady Jane. She was intelligent, sassy and a bookworm. She reminded me a bit of Hermione Granger because she comes off as a “know-it-all” and is always has her nose stuck in a book with titles like “An Analysis of Edians’ Paintings and Their Impact on Society: Volume Three.”
She is strong and determined and independent. She’s also quite good with horse jokes, and knows how to handle a pan (this will make sense if you read the book…which you should). Gifford was just as lovable as Jane. I love that he has a secret other life and how sweet he is on Jane. I also love that it wasn’t all INSTA LOVE and that this relationship took time to build and was based on more than just looks. It was such a pleasure to watch these two characters fall in love against all the odds, especially since their story started as an arranged marriage.
In their bedchamber, Jane set a pillow and blanket on the floor next to the bed.
“Jane, I cannot allow you to sleep on the floor,” G said gallantly.
She smiled. “The pillow and blanket are for you, my lord.”
This brings me to another point that I think deserves being said, though this book is empowering for women (Jane and many of the other female characters) it never talks ill or marriage or implies a negative connotation to marriage. My Lady Jane is a book for female empowerment and the empowerment of falling in love and finding someone to spend your life with. I sometimes find that many books, the media, and people can’t seem to find a good balance with empowering a female, but also being okay when she decides to fall in love with someone or have a family. I am glad that the authors of My Lady Jane not only empower the women in their book, but they also empower marriage and love too (Sorry…I don’t mean to sound preachy on this topic, but this is something that really bothers me. Just because I as a female I have chosen to get married and to one day have a family does not mean that I have given up my independence, my intelligence, or my feisty-ness….I can “have my cake and eat it too” and My Lady Jane resonates that belief to me).
For the third POV was Edward, who starts off as a sickly teenage king, but is actually about to embark on quite the adventure of his own. I liked that he had this sort of morbid humor, making fun of his own probable impending death due to having “The affliction”. I think he showed the largest growth of character and I really enjoyed seeing him out of his element. It was awesome to see him become his own person and to see his eyes open to the fact that women weren’t there just to mend his clothes and make his supper. His respect for women grew, and as it grew, so did he. Even the minor characters like Pet, Elizabeth (yes…that Elizabeth) and Gracie were all superbly done, and they all kicked butt. You wanted to see and hear more about them, and you cared if they were in danger.
Now, I know I mentioned magic before, and yes there is plenty of magic. In this tweaked and alternative retelling of history, there are humans that can turn into animals. These people are called Edians, and they are found all over this story, even those you least suspect. I would keep an eye out for a horse, a ferret, a kestrel, a skunk, a fox and a dog to name a few (but I won’t tell you who is who) though I guess I can disclose to you that Gifford or G is one of these Edians, and he is a magnificent stallion and you will find out more about him right from the start in chapter 1. The nonmagical people are called Verities and they aren’t very fond of Edians this alternate history’s version of Catholics vs. Protestants which is one of the subplots in the book. There is also betrayal, poisonings, incarcerations, romance, war, and consummation.
Overall, My Lady Jane a fantastical book that I loved and enjoyed from cover to cover, in all its formats (the audible version is done with a really great reader). It is on my top 5 favorite books of 2016. It is charming, hilarious and will make you laugh at the most inappropriate times (usually around 6:30am while on the treadmill in a gym full of people, or in a coffee shop filled with people…oh the strange looks I received). It was so entertaining and not to be taken seriously. It was fun and such an easy read to get through even over 500 pages. There are nods to Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Shakespeare and even Disney. There is politics but it’s kept to a minimal, and there is definitely a lot of horsing around.
Go READ it! You won’t be disappointed. 🙂
P.S. Clearly my Edian animal form would be a bunny.