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 gets to be Queen of England.
I don’t think I have the words to describe how much I loved this book and how brilliant I thought it was. It’s such an incredibly funny alternate history novel about Lady Jane Grey and the Tudors and I absolutely loved it. I devoured this in just two sittings because it was so fast-paced and hilarious to read.
This book is an alternative take on Tudor history and what happened during the last days of Edward VI’s reign and the 9 days that Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England. My Lady Jane doesn’t read like historical fiction at all. It doesn’t have the slow pace that historical fiction novels usually do and a lot of the time I actually forgot that this was set during the 16th century because the tone of it felt so modern. There were lots of funny antics and magic involved and I just found it to be a really fun novel to read. There was also a lot of hilarious author commentary strewn throughout the novel and I loved it so much!
The plot of this book is exciting and action-packed, with everything from treason to escape plots and a husband who transforms into a horse daily with the rise of the sun. The story begins with King Edward VI being diagnosed with the Affliction (or tuberculosis) and told that he must name an heir before he dies. His advisor, Lord Dudley, proposes a marriage between Edward’s cousin Lady Jane Grey and his own son, Gifford, and advises Edward to name their child as his heir. The only problem with this is that Jane does not want to marry… and Gifford is a horse… during the day. Also Edward’s condition is worsening by the minute and there’s no time for Jane and Gifford to produce a child. So, upon the suggestion of Lord Dudley, Edward names Jane as his successor and madness ensues because others are after the crown and you really can’t trust anyone in the 16th century. I loved the plot of this book so much! It was lighthearted and exciting, while still incorporating a lot of actual Tudor history. I did find that having knowledge about Tudor history made some things a little bit predictable, especially in the first part of the book, which follows history quite accurately. I had a pretty good idea of what was coming in the story based on what I knew happened in history. But this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the novel and I still loved it immensely.
The magic system in My Lady Jane is so interesting and fun. There are a group of people called Eðians who are able to turn into animals. Most Eðians have control over their powers but there are some, like poor Gifford, who are unable to control it and turn into their animal forms even when they don’t want to. There are a group of people who are pro-Eðians and have no problems with their existence but there are also a large group of people who believe that Eðians are unnatural and shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and how the magic system was used as a lighthearted way of exploring religion in 16th century England. I thought it was clever how they used the different groups of people to represent the Protestants and Catholics and how it played into the politics of the time.
I have to say that there wasn’t a single character that I didn’t like in this novel. They were all so quirky and funny in their own ways and I was so attached to all of them by the end of the book. Jane is a feisty and strong young woman who is not only intelligent but also fearless and opinionated. She was a wonderful character to read about and I loved everything about her. I also really, really loved Gifford, who was portrayed as a little bit of a fool at the beginning but he grew on me so quickly, with his hidden love of poetry and his love of… hay? He was just such a great character and does so many funny things like carrying around an ink and quill set so he can compose poetry… even when he’s in a bit of a pickle. And of course we have Edward. He was probably my least favourite of the three main characters but this was because we really didn’t get to see into his head that much. His story was a little bit underdeveloped for my liking and I wish we got to see a little bit more of him. My favourite side character was probably Edward’s grandmother. She was soooo hilarious and I loved her so much. She’s an Eðian and her animal form is a skunk! Here’s the story about the first time she turned into an animal:
“One of my maids forgot the fruit with my breakfast. I became a skunk and sprayed her.”
As for the romance, I love Jane and Gifford together so much!!! It’s a bit of a hate to love romance, which is one of my favourite tropes. The development in their relationship was just really beautiful to see and I will be shipping them for a long time to come. It’s just a feel good kind of relationship that I can see myself reading over and over again.
My Lady Jane is just such a wonderful creation. I loved absolutely everything about it, from the humour to the characters and the magic system. It was so much fun to read and I can’t recommend it highly enough!