Title: My Lady Jane
Series: The Lady Janies, #1
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publication date: June 7, 2016
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Young adult
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’ve always been fascinated by the sad story of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen — the young woman used as a political pawn following the death of King Edward VI. Put in place as queen despite not actually being next in line to the throne, her brief reign ended with Queen Mary seizing the throne, and shortly thereafter, both Lady Jane and her husband were beheaded.
But good news! In My Lady Jane, her story is revised, rewritten, and turned into an absolutely, adorably engaging romp. Heads DON’T roll in this version of the story. #justiceforjane
In the England of My Lady Jane, the political landscape is divided between Eðians (those who can assume an animal form) and Verities (those who can’t). Verities have persecuted Eðians for years, and the return of Mary to power signals a return of the terror of burnings and purges. King Henry VIII very famously became an Eðian when he turned into a lion in a fit of rage, but Edward doesn’t think he’s an Eðian… or is he?
Meanwhile, Jane — a girl who would rather read a book than do just about anything — is forced into marriage with a boy she doesn’t know, all as a means of securing political power for his father. There’s the inconvenient fact that Gifford (G) is an Eðian who turns into a horse by day… but that’s only one of the many obstacles facing the newlyweds.
Sound silly? You betcha. But SO much fun, and the writing is truly a delight. Here’s a sampling of some favorite passages and conversation. See for yourselves how adorable this is!
Wife #3 (Edward’s mother) had done everything right; namely, she’d produced a child with the correct genitalia to be a future ruler of England, and then, because she was never one to stick around to gloat, she’d promptly died.
So. Her husband-to-be was a philanderer. A smooth operator. A debaucher. A rake. A frisker. (Jane became something of a walking thesaurus when she was upset, a side effect of too much reading.)
“Was that a horse joke?”
“Was that a horse joke?”
“You have hay in your hair.”
He smoothed his hand over his hair before he caught her smile. “No horse jokes.”
“Never! But I wanted to ask: are you catching a chill? You sound hoarse.”
At this point, G realized he’d just asked a ferret what the dog said.
“Right. As I was saying, bears are always hungry. Try not to act like food.”
“How does one act like food?”
“…And Bess can stay with Jane to make sure she doesn’t ferret her way out of that cage.”
“Can you use ferret as a verb?” G asked.
She shrugged. “You can now.”
“Right,” G said slowly. He picked up his sword. “We are off, then?”
“Without hesitation,” Edward said.
And for a few moments, they hesitated.
Then they were off.
“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.”
As if on cue (or maybe a bit late on his cue), a kestrel flew through the window. “Edward!” At least, she hoped the bird was Edward. It’d be embarrassing to just start talking with a strange bird.
I loved this book, start to finish. I have the next two Lady Janies on my Kindle already, but I’ve saving them for when I feel like I need a reading treat. The next two are:
And after that, there are a couple of Mary books… so I have plenty to look forward to!