My Lady Jane
by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Expected Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Length: 491 pages
Obtained Via: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
My Lady Jane starts off as a fun adventure through a fantastical alternate history. In the My Lady Jane universe, the big conflict is between the Verity and the Eðians. Eðians are people who can transform between an animal and human form, and the Verity cannot. Some Verity support Eðians, but many also wish to persecute Eðians and free the land of them. That’s the backdrop for the plot of the book, which follows a handful of characters. Edward, who is king when the book opens, is diagnosed with “The Affliction”, aka certain death, but all is not where it seems. That’s how Jane gets caught up in the mess, as Edward is tricked into signing his line of succession over to Jane and her eventual heirs. This plot includes marrying Jane off to Gifford, who has a “horse curse”–he spends his nights as a man and his days as a horse.
There IS a lot to love about My Lady Jane, though I have to admit I’m not as enamored with the book as I hoped to be. The plot is fun, full of trickery and scheming and banter. The book is full of pop culture references, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I totally loved coming across the ones I recognized. But many of them felt out of place and outdated for a YA novel. The Monty Python references are probably timeless at this point, but some of the others felt odd. The narrative voice and breaking of the fourth wall was great, and I think that’s a big reason why this book has been drawing comparisons to The Princess Bride, which is apt. However, I didn’t find this book particularly funny. Fun, yes. Funny, no.
Another reason I did not fall madly in love with this book is just that. . . the romance. The romance is a much bigger part of My Lady Jane that I was expecting. That’s fine, but I didn’t buy into the progression of Jane and Gifford’s relationship so the romance aspect–which was a LARGE aspect–completely fell flat. Neither one of them want to be married and they start off their relationship with animosity, which had so much potential. However, the pacing of them going from kind-of-enemies-to-lovers didn’t work for me. It was nothing, nothing, nothing, and then only in the last thirty percent of the book was there progress made.
The political scheming was by far my favorite part of the book. Even though the story is light-hearted, I found myself having the most fun when reading about the characters discuss the political ramification of their choices. This isn’t a twisty book, though, and I think that works in the book favor. The only aspect of My Lady Jane that did work for me is the characters. Edward’s almost self-pitying narration was strangely charming, but Jane was by far the best character. She was clever and knowledgeable, due to her love of books about all sorts of topics. A character after my own heart. I loved how stubborn and determined she was, even when force to take on roles she didn’t want in the first place. Gifford took more time to warm up to, but in the end I came around to his character too. One of the best themes of this novel is how it tends to confront the sexism of the time period head-on, because Jane is every bit as capable of Edward. . . and in the end, Edward realizes that. In fact, that thread was one of the main things that kept me reading.
My Lady Jane is a fun, light alternate history book, but there were some rather large points of the book that did not work for me at all. While I can see why this book has been such a hit, I personally struggled with the romance and the humor. 3/5 cupcakes.