Review—My Lady Jane by Ashton, Hand, and Meadows

I loved this wonderful romp through a slightly revised Tudor period of British history by  authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. During the reign of Edward Tudor, the contention in the country is not between Catholics and Protestants, but between Eðians and Verities. Those who are Eðian, like Edward’s father King Henry VIII, could change from human to animal form at will (Henry, not surprisingly, was a lion). Verities, on the other hand, believed Eðians were an abomination and that England should be purified of their presence. So, in a country torn between two factions, with a sickly king, not much could go wrong, right?

Right. Or something.

The novel is told from three points of view (or really, I should say four): Jane Grey, Gifford My Lady Jane Dudley (who insists on being called “G”), King Edward, and the authors/narrators, who are quite fond of narrative interruptions in order to explain certain things (like history, theoretical plot holes, and/or how characters are actually feeling). Gifford is of course the son of Lord Dudley, who has been ruling the kingdom through Edward, and the plot to marry Jane to Gifford (whom history knows as Guildford) takes place as “usual.” What also may have happened as it did, is that Edward falls victim to what seem to be several plots to poison him so that others (Dudley via Jane, and Mary Tudor) can ascend to the throne.

But. The wrench in the works is that just as Edward is about to succumb to the poisons, his lovely sister Bess, whom Edward tells, “You’re the one who’s going to make England great,” arrives and helps save him from an untimely end. Then, of course, all manner of fun ensues as Jane is crowned Queen of England, Mary seizes the throne, people discover their true Eðian forms, learn how to control their gifts, and Edward, Bess, Jane and Gifford plot to take the country back from the Eðian-hating, “poisonous bunch-back’d toad” that is Mary Tudor.

I absolutely loved the snark of the characters, as well as the snark of the authors when they interrupted to “set things straight.” Then, there were also the references to Pink Floyd (“No more books. No more tutors’ dirty looks.”), Monty Python (“It’s just a flesh wound.”), Shakespeare (see above, and also Gifford supposedly composes many of Shakespeare’s works), what could be now called a Hamilton reference (“Screw your courage to the sticking place.”), and more.

Additionally, I of course loved the spin on history. It was a fun romp through England (and France), but ultimately I loved the hints at the underlying childishness of the Eðian vs. Verity debate. It distills the Protestant vs. Catholic fight (there is no mention of either religion), and [insert any other thing people “hotly” debate here] down to what it really is: I don’t understand what you are, I’m afraid of it, so I don’t like it and you shouldn’t be allowed to be or do it. Really, after all of the escapades and fun and blasts of light as people shift from one form to another, the characters in the novel come to understand the beauty of who or what someone is, instead of always being afraid of and persecuting others for differences.

That message, I think, made the novel truly great (well, I mean, the snark was fun and amazing and I loved it, but when you manage to sneak contemporary social criticism in along with a man that turns into a horse, can you really beat that?).

Jacket Copy:

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.

Like that could go wrong.

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