My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1)
By: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
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?
I really love reading books where it’s clear that everyone involved with them was just having FUN, which is probably why I found this book so delightful. I mean, besides the intersection of historical fiction with wacky hijinks, which is also ticking numerous buttons for me. Anyways, this is all to say that I found My Lady Jane to be absolutely delightful, full of teens acting like teens and yet somehow also managing to save England.
The premise is just fun–taking place right before Edward VI’s death and Lady Jane Grey’s ascent to the throne, but with the addition of shapeshifting magic that’s apparently a thing. Now, the actual history of Lady Jane Grey’s ascent to the throne is not very nice (spoiler, Queen Mary rides in with an army, declares herself queen instead, and Lady Jane was killed shortly after). As the book likes to point out, none of this was her fault–she was part of a power play by Edward to ensure that Mary didn’t take the throne, and probably Edward was being manipulated by Jane’s father-in-law Lord Northumberland, all of which this book goes into. But what I did like was how the book focused on the three teens involved in this power struggle–Edward, Jane and her husband Lord Guilford Dudley (G).
Although I wasn’t expecting the story to be anything but fairly sad, the writing style was delightful, irreverent, and full of narrative commentary on things like Edward’s casual misogyny. Honestly, the writing alone would have made me finish the book. But as mentioned, I also really enjoyed all of the main characters–Jane and G were delightful, and Edward became less of a prat by the end–and their attempts to fight the paths that the adults in the room were forcing them on. The plot kept the bones and interesting anecdotes from history, while shading in things that had been implied. The biggest change was the whole shapeshifting-magic, which was a little jarring to me at first. But I grew to actually really enjoy the ways that magic shaped and changed the narrative, and the ways that all of the authors had subtly altered history to fit it in. The narrative was fast-paced and irreverent–again, everyone seemed to be having fun with this book, and I was having fun with it.
I also really loved Jane. She was clever, loved books, determined to make the best of things, while also sometimes being prone to acting like a seventeen-year-old. Same with Gifford and Edward–they were all teens faced with lose-lose decisions who decided to forge their own path, while also being idiots sometimes. G’s and Jane’s relationship was especially adorable, going from trying to make the best of a bad situation to genuinely loving each other.
I’d recommend this book if you want a fun, quick read with a little history thrown in (especially because spoiler: one of the historical deviations is a happy ending).
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.