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My Lady Jane Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In real life, Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey died young in 16th-century England. Here, Edward and Jane get another chance at happiness thanks to the irrepressible imaginations of the authors. Adventure, intrigue, humor, and romance abound—so, too, does high fantasy. England is a place where people (including royalty) are either EÐians (those who can shape-shift) or Verities (those who cannot). Because many Verities believe EÐian magic is evil, they set about to obliterate it. EÐians retaliate. Also, someone keeps poisoning the king's food. The plot, then, involves Edward, Jane, and their allies trying to figure out how to keep peace in the kingdom, find out who is poisoning the king's food, and restore Edward to the throne (he is presumed dead and gads about incognito for part of the book). EÐian "facts" are woven in with such subtle assurance that they come across as a genuine part of English history. For instance, the year the volatile Henry VIII discovered his leonine animal form and devoured the court jester is known in the kingdom's collective memory as the Year of the Lion. Wisecracks are prevalent, which would be grating after a while if the characters did not fairly sparkle with the complete array of honest human qualities. Readers will need to know the basic backstory of Lady Jane Grey and Edward VI. VERDICT A great choice for those who enjoy lighthearted, alternative history adventures and romance.—Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC
“Wacky, irreverent, and just plain fun. This fantasy-adventure politely tips its hat to history before joyfully punting it out of the way. An utter delight.” (Booklist (starred review))
“An uproarious historical fantasy that’s not to be missed.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Gleefully anachronistic comedy.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Three cheers for this well-written and rollicking revision of history full of timely mannerisms and bold adventure. Those who enjoy clever humor, colorful fantasy, and light romance will savor each page.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“The Tudors meets Monty Python. Prepare to laugh and gasp and clutch your pearls.” (Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of the Shatter Me series)
“History, humor, and unexpected magic come together in this marvelous story.” (Jessica Day George, author of Silver in the Blood)
“Adventure, intrigue, humor, and romance abound. A great choice for those who enjoy lighthearted, alternative history adventures.” (School Library Journal)
Top customer reviews
What makes this book even more super-fantastic are the wonderful
references to modern-day movies/stories!!
It is a clear tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies, LADYHAWKE--"always together, eternally apart." I hope this book sends millions of people running to watch this movie because it's fantastic!!!
There is a reference to The Red Wedding in GAME OF THRONES!!!
To my great delight, it is also a wonderful tribute to the amazing and super-fantastic THE PRINCESS BRIDE!!!!
Lady Jane is described as a Hermoine-type character with a love of reading, loving libraries, and wild [red] hair!!!
Elizabeth (yes, THE Queen Elizabeth) is a Professor McGonagall-type character!!!
Lady Jane uses a frying pan to beat up soldiers, just like Rapunzel in TANGLED!!!! That's quite possibly my favorite part!!! "Frying pans! Who knew?!"
G reminds me so much of R in WARM BODIES! He's also portrayed as a would-be, possibly-could-have-been William Shakespeare! And his constant, "Oh, that's good. I need to write that down," is wonderfully reminiscent of the fantastic DRAGONHEART!!!
There is even a reference to JAWS!!! "We're going to need a bigger sword!"
I know I haven't even come close to mentioning all the wonderful stories the Lady Janes have referenced in the wonderful MY LADY JANE, so if you see others, I'd LOVE to compare notes. This book was worth the impulse buy, reading it all in one day, and staying up until 4:00 am!!!
For one thing, the vast majority of people involved in history are dead. For another, quite a few of them came to sad and even gruesome ends. Take Lady Jane Grey, for example. Became queen of England in 1553, ruled for only nine days, got her head chopped off. And on top of that, the poor girl was only sixteen years old. Her beloved husband Lord Guildford Dudley met the same end, at age nineteen. If any historical event needed a heaping dose of good old-fashioned revisionism, it’s this sad little anecdote.
Never fear. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows are here to tell you what really happened–or at least, what happened in a far more fun and funny corner of the multiverse than this one. How about English history with a complex society of shapeshifters? And a YA heroine who doesn’t want to be a heroine at all, preferring to stay at home with her massive book collection? And male lead characters who aren’t total jerks? And a Tangled reference?
If that last one doesn’t sell you on this book, I don’t know what will.
The problem with My Lady Jane is that it’s not marketed the way it should be. The synopsis just doesn't tell you enough. Stop trying to hide fantasy and hilarity under a bushel basket, Harper Teen. And I like the cover, but you could at least have put a horse next to Jane and shoved a few books into her arms.
Let me explain what My Lady Jane is really about. Roughly half the human beings in this version of medieval England are each able to turn into a particular animal. These people are called Ethians (a different symbol is used in place of the “th” in the book, but I don’t know what it’s called or how to get my keyboard to do it, so let’s just go with the phonetic spelling). The three authors build on this premise to create something that has little or no historical accuracy, and isn’t remotely sorry about it.
So here’s a more thorough synopsis: King Edward VI of England is dying, and without an heir to take his place. The only person eligible for the throne is Lady Jane Grey–his cousin, his best friend, and an inveterate bookworm. But of course, a woman cannot be the sole ruler of England, so Jane will have to get married. The good news is, there’s a candidate–Lord Gifford Dudley, a young man of unusual habits but sound character. The bad news is, he’s a horse. Well, half the time, anyway.
Do not read this book if you are seeking reliable historical education. By all means read it if you want to cheer up and laugh your head off.
I don’t have anything to put in the “stuff I wasn’t so fond of” column on this book, so instead, I’ll talk about the main things I loved:
The characters. The book features quite a few POV characters, and they’re all awesome. Each one has a distinct personality and unique, engaging traits. Jane and Gifford, in particular, are delightful. Jane is a heroine for every young woman who loves to read. Gifford is a hero for every guy who likes to write. (Also for every guy who is cursed to spend his daylight hours in the form of a horse, though I’m not sure how big that target audience is.) Together, Jane and Gifford are pretty much the perfect couple. They don’t wallow in angst, and their romance is never tiresome.
The backdrop. It’s not just the alt-history-with-shapeshifters concept that sets My Lady Jane apart, it’s the way that premise is developed. Too many fantasy novels fall into the threadbare trope of pitting one-dimensional magic-hating villains against equally one-dimensional magic-using heroes. The conflict between Ethians and ordinary humans in this book is more complex than that, leading to political intrigue and unexpected twists. The presence of heroes and villains on both sides of the aisle provides welcome shades of gray. (No, that wasn’t a pun. Unless you want it to be.)
The humor. This is one of those books that has you laughing out loud on every page. Sometimes more than once on each page. It’s a “feel-good” story. It’s not really a big spoiler to say that My Lady Jane has a happy ending. It’s the kind of book you know will end that way as soon as you read the first chapter. As in a P.G. Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett book, the enjoyment comes not from wondering if the characters will get a happy ending, but from wondering how the author will bring about the inevitable happy ending. And the path to My Lady Jane’s cheery resolution is brilliant and full of surprises. There’s plenty of suspense, but nothing truly dark or unpleasant.
A few quotes, in case you’re not convinced yet:
Content Advisory: A smattering of mild profanity, a few slightly off-color references and a tastefully-written “fade to black” scene (in which the participants are married). The book is suitable for teens, and younger kids could probably enjoy it as well with a bit of parental guidance.
In short, My Lady Jane is a literary pleasure that you should not deny yourself one second longer. Buy it now. Read it. Then read it again so you can discover all the funny lines you missed the first time around.
And ladies, when you get engaged to a guy, be sure to ask questions if you smell hay on his breath.
Most recent customer reviews
Okay… So now you have a choice, you can either a) Stop reading this review because...Read more
In a good way.
My Lady Jane was the most outrageous, hilarious Tudor novel I have ever read.Read more