Book Review: My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My-Lady-Jane-Book-Review-She-Latitude

Title: My Lady Jane (2016)
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy
Extent: 491 pages
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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?

Review

I actually picked up My Lady Jane more or less on a whim. The cover didn’t interest me. The synopsis didn’t interest me. The authors didn’t interest me. But after hearing so many of my trusted bloggers say that this book was surprisingly funny and unique, I just couldn’t resist — and let me tell you right now that it was the right decision. 😛

My Lady Jane presents a wacky alternate history of the fate of Lady Jane Grey, known for being the Queen of England for a grand total of nine days before she was beheaded. This book takes the events in Jane’s life, tells it in a YA regency romance kind of style, and adds in some spices: romance, magic, and humour. The result was a lot funnier and more enjoyable than I imagined.

The three main characters (Jane, Gifford and Edward) each get their own perspective and story to tell: Jane struggles with marrying a horse, Gifford struggles with being a horse, and Edward, well, is dying. It’s all very depressing… except that it’s not, not really. The humour permeates pretty much every scene in this book and makes even the supposedly sad ones light-hearted.

“I am not dead,” argued Edward. “There are nefarious villains who would have you believe I died. But any accounts of my demise have been grossly exaggerated, I assure you, for here I am, very much alive.”

Given that I am a huge fan of the arranged marriages trope, I found the romance between Gifford and Jane sweet and adorable. Their falling in love was slow (well, ish) but sure, and their interactions are fun to read about. I also loved the side characters and appreciated the relationships they have with our protagonists.

Characters aside, My Lady Jane’s strengths lie not in its romance (cute, but otherwise unremarkable) or its historical accuracy (non-existent), but in its wit. The writing style is snarky and smart, with a touch of breaking the fourth wall. It honestly doesn’t sound like it was written by three authors because it was so cohesive and consistent from the beginning until the end.

One thing that stood out to me was that some of the terms used in the dialogue seemed a little bit too modern for the time setting. I suspected this might have been intentional, just to add to the wackiness, but it did occasionally jolt me right out of the story. For example:

“Because he’s my ex,” Gracie blurted out.

“Ex?” Jane had no idea what that meant.

Bess leaned toward Jane, keeping her voice low. “Former paramour.”

The real Lady Jane Grey lived from 1536/1537 to 1554, and the word ‘ex’ used this way in English started in late 18th century, so this use is hundreds of years too early. Regardless of whether or not this was intentional, this one came across as a very simple editing error to me. 😛

The only other real criticism I had was that I did feel like the first half was so much stronger than the second half. I enjoyed getting to know the characters more than I enjoyed seeing them solve problems, because at that point, I think the humour died down a little and the plot took over… and the plot, in my opinion, wasn’t anything special or mind-blowing. Frankly speaking, this book works because of the humour — take that away and I don’t think there’d be much left of it.

He pretended to stretch his arms, in order to shift even closer to her. (This isn’t in the history books, of course, but we’d like to point out that this was the first time a young man had ever tried that particular arm-stretch move on a young woman. Edward was the inventor of the arm stretch, a tactic that teenage boys have been using for centuries.)

That said, My Lady Jane does come with the humour, which means that I really enjoyed my reading experience. I’m not sure if I’d read anything like it again in the future — I think the idea tires very quickly — but it was really entertaining while it lasted. If you’re planning on picking up this book, do not take it seriously. It’s not meant to be, and you’d love it better that way. 🙂

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43 thoughts on “Book Review: My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

  1. I’m so interested in this book. I don’t think I’ve read much Historical Fiction. I think this might be a good one to start. 🙂

    Great review, Reg! 🙂

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  2. I totally agree with not being interested with the cover! I’m sorry but it’s just… bad… umm hideous, maybe? 😦 but I love Cynthia Hand’s writing ever since I read the Unearthly trilogy and I knew I had to read this one. I’ve been hearing so many similar advices though, do not take it seriously, do not overthink it, haha I’m not big with history so I’d probably do just that 😛 great review & thanks for sharing!

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  3. I’m stunned by how often I see this book around my feed. I actually met the authors at YALLWEST a couple months ago. I got the book for Trang, but their spirit made it seem like the book might actually be quite fun to read! glad it was entertaining. 😉

    – Lashaan

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  4. Great review! I am so glad you enjoyed that book. It’s not my typical read either, I wouldn’t pick this up if I hadn’t heard so many great things about it, but now I think I might. It sounds like such a fun read, I love the quotes you put there 🙂

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  5. Great review Reg! I will admit my reasons for picking up this book are largely the same as yours. I saw it around a lot but never really paid attention to it until I got it in my June Owl Crate box, then all of a sudden there were so many amazing reviews and I just started to get more and more excited about reading it! The hype for this one is definitely real! 🙂
    I’m glad you really enjoyed it, and seeing that you did has made me even more excited to start it myself. It does sound like an amazing story and the fact that everyone has said its hilarious are huge positives for me, but yeah based on the actual history of Jane Grey I assumed this book wouldn’t be historically accurate. Hard to write a funny YA book when it ends the same way histories Jane Grey did!

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    • Yeah, I think I just didn’t really know what to expect! Like the cover didn’t give anything away – it looked much too light-hearted for historical fiction, and the funny writings/taglines didn’t help me categorise the book as anything, haha.

      I’m actually a bit surprised by how much hype this one has gotten. I enjoyed it, but beyond the humour I didn’t think it was anything particularly AMAZING? Like it didn’t blow my mind or anything, it was just really enjoyable. I can’t wait to see what you think later on – hope you like it. ❤

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      • The cover did catch my eye, but not really in a way that made me read the blurb. It was definitely too light-hearted for a proper historical account to Jane Grey I agree with you there.
        I’m a little surprised as well, it seemed to come out of nowhere and ever since it’s release I’ve seen loads of rveiews for it on WordPress. At least it was enjoyable, I guess maybe the hype made it seem like it would be a little more than that though. 🙂

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  6. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one, and your review has just solidified my need to read it. It sounds absolutely fantastic. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  7. Amazing review! 🙂 I’m sooo happy to see that you enjoyed it. This book has just recently been added to my TBR list, after I heard that it’s hilarious and very good. Now, after reading your review, I’m even more looking forward to reading it!

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  8. The cover did hook me at first but the summary not so much, but I’ve seen several of my trusted bloggers give this one high ratings so I’m interested in giving this a try. Plus your review makes me want to pick it up even more. Great review!

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    • I think I really enjoyed it because I went in with almost zero idea what it’s going to be like, and it turned out to be funny and entertaining! Hopefully you like it as much as I did – definitely don’t take it seriously, haha. 🙂

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