Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Setting: England 1553
My copy came from: I purchased the Kindle version from Amazon.
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Review: Cute and clever, but I couldn’t shake the odd feeling I got while reading this.
My Lady Jane is a fantastical approach to retelling the history of Lady Jane Grey and Edward VI. One in which people can turn into animals, and instead of the turmoil being between Protestants and Catholics, it is between the Edians (those who can turn into animals) and the Verities (those against magic). As more and more characters discovered their Edian abilities, the book really lost me. It just seemed like that ability felt forced for the plot, and didn’t evolve in an organic way.
“Now,” he said. “I want to hear about your day. Did you read any new books?”
“I’ve read all the books we have.” She wrinkled her nose. “Armies aren’t very good about carrying libraries with them. I can’t imagine why. We’d fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read.”
Gifford’s laugh rumbled through him, loud against her ear. “A question I often ask myself. Imagine how much money the realm would save if the rulers focused their finances on libraries, rather than wars.”
“Not if I were allowed to shop for books.”
“England would go bankrupt,” he said gravely. “Thank God for wars.”
I enjoyed the characters, especially Lady Jane. She was smart and determined, and loved reading, and she was great fun. I also liked Edward, the sickly King, who was kind and friendly, which is different than what we usually read about the English monarchy at this time. Edward rules that Jane will marry Gifford Dudley, who likes to be known as “G”, and I liked G, but here’s where that odd feeling that I just couldn’t shake came in. And if you’d like to skip past this review and not read anymore I understand! No spoilers, but what I say might make you want to skip this book.
G is a secret Edian, and he is a horse by day, but a man by night. This lead to many humorous exchanges between Jane and G, but it was just odd to read Jane looking at the horse and liking the looks of the horse, and I couldn’t get past this, and instead kept thinking of this book cover as I read this book:
Now, lest you all think that this type of book is one that regularly crosses my path, no, no! First, this apparently is a joke book, and not a, ahem, romantic novel. Many thanks to Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek who has been posting some absolutely hilarious book covers (some clean, but most of the covers are not). Just be warned that there’s a lot of weird stuff out there and there is a lot of that particular, uh, genre out there, and I just couldn’t get that ridiculous horse image out of my head while reading this book.
“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Was that a horse joke?”
It was very clever, but the human to animal aspect was just too weird for me. And there were some other animal-human scenes that were frankly just bizarre if you thought about it for too long, and I’m sure were intended to be completely innocent in the book, but I just, ew, too odd for me!
There were a lot of Shakespeare references in the book, as G dabbles in poetry when he’s a man, and these lines were fun and clever. My Lady Jane was a quick and easy read, and the different take on history was interesting to read, but I just couldn’t get past the premise of people turning into animals.
According to Goodreads, two more books by these authors are listed: My Plain Jane which is indicated to be about Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte, and My Calamity Jane, which is about Calamity Jane. I really hope these retellings don’t involve animals as I don’t think I’ll read them if that’s the case.
Bottom Line: A clever retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s story, but there was too much oddness for me.
Have you read My Lady Jane? Have I completely ruined the book for you? Are you looking forward to My Plain Jane and My Calamity Jane?