My Lady Jane: A Book Review

Posted August 13, 2016 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 11 Comments

My Lady Jane: A Book ReviewMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Alternate History
Pages: 491
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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 is about to become the Queen of England.

I loved My Lady Jane. I fell in love with it as soon as I read the dedication:

For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door.

And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.

That really sets the tone for the entire novel. And FYI: This doesn’t have anything to do with Jack’s needless death in Titanic. 

Basically, the Lady Janies (as the three authors call themselves) decided that Lady Jane Grey’s life wasn’t fair. In reality, she was Queen of England for nine days before she was beheaded by Mary. So the Lady Janies wanted to change that. And insert some magic. And the result was fabulous. So let’s talk about it.

First of all, Jane was the best character. Mostly because she was a major bookworm, and I could relate to her on a deep, spiritual level.

Jane…loved books. There was nothing she relished more than the weight of a hefty tome in her hands, each beautiful volume of knowledge as rare and wonderful and fascinating as the last. She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of the letters before her eyes. And most of all, she loved the way that books could transport her from her otherwise mundane and stifling life and offer the experiences of a hundred other lives. Through books she could see worlds.

ISN’T THAT A GREAT QUOTE? And that love of books is portrayed throughout the novel. Even in how other people think of her. When her marriage is arranged, her fiancé scoffs because he’s only known Jane as a girl with her nose buried in a book. Which obviously means she must have something wrong with her. People sometimes think stuff like that in real life, so it was good to see it portrayed and then see how his opinion changed once he knew her.

I loved how the Lady Janies decided to change history. Instead of using the whole Protestant vs. Catholic feud that led to all the war in real Tudor England, the Lady Janies created a unique magic system to represent the two sides. There were the E∂ians (pronounced Eth-y-uns) and the Verity. The E∂ians could transform into an animal—everything from a lion to a ferret. And the Verity wanted to rid England of all E∂ians. Jane was on the side of the E∂ians, and Mary was Verity. So, in real life, Jane was Protestant and Mary was Catholic.

And I think that’s such a cool way to go about it—especially in a YA novel. Magic is so much more fun to read about than religious wars. And it’s a unique system of magic we’ve never seen before.

And the humor was hilarious. This book was so funny—not something you can say about most historical fictions that end in a brutal and bloody war. The authors injected themselves into the stories sometimes with these humorous moments, and I thought it was wonderful.Like these lines:

“Yes, Gracie was a fox. No, really. She was. Literally. (We know. It’s too good.)”

“He pretended to stretch his arms, in order to shift even closer to her. (This isn’t in the history books, of course, but we’d like to point out that this was the first time a young man had ever tried that particular arm-stretch move on a young woman.  Edward was the inventor of the arm stretch, a tactic that teenage boys have been using for centuries.)

And one of my personal favorites:

“The guard on the right re-raised his sword and took a deep breath as if to speak, but he didn’t get a sound out before a loud bong rang out and he dropped like a stone. Jane stood behind the guard, her frying pan raised to where the man’s head had been.
‘Wonderful, Jane!’ G grinned. Frying pans. Who knew?”

frying pans

And I loved Gifford and Jane’s relationship. Gifford is the guy who was arranged to marry Jane. This story he goes by “G.” Earlier in the book, I was hesitant about his name, but then later, I wrote a note that says, “I’m warming up to the name Gifford.” Mostly because I started to love him. Jane and G are both pretty stubborn and don’t like each other in the beginning, but things change. Especially when you live with them and learn all their secrets. And G is awesome for a myriad of reasons, which I’ll let you realize when you read the book (because you’re going to read the book, right?).

I just really loved this book. I have no complaints. If you read it, you can’t take it seriously as an accurate historical novel. Because it’s not. It follows pretty well (besides the whole magic thing) until the second half, where the authors make it very clear that it’s steering clear from the truth of history. But that’s what’s fun about books, right? They take us to places we didn’t know we could go. And we have fun doing it. SO GO READ.


  • That Tangled gif! xD
    But honestly, My Lady Jane sounds like such a wonderful book! I remember being younger and really being interested in Jane Grey, because after all, isn’t there something interesting about a girl who was queen for nine days? I feel like she’s not really someone who’s explored too much (as a main character) in historical novels, so yeah, pretty excited to see this book around – even if it steers away from history!

    • Yeah I haven’t really heard of her before either. I’ve read books about King Henry VIII’s wives because that’s where most people focus when they write about the Tudors. But I loved it! I hope you read it!

  • So glad you enjoyed this! I loved it, too. Such an unexpectedly fun read. It really didn’t seem like my type of book initially, but when it showed up in my OwlCrate I had no choice but to read it!

    • Yeah, I’ve heard about it for months, but I didn’t think I’d really like it either. I’m excited for their other Jane books to come out! Have you heard about those?

      • I haven’t heard about those (I’m a bad book blogger apparently)! But I am excited now, too! I am sure I would love them 😀

  • This book sounds amazing! I bought it on my last B&N trip and was giggling on the way home just reading the dedication. I like the idea of it being a “fairytale” kind of historical retelling, and appreciate that the authors are upfront about its inaccuracies. Cannot wait to read it – and thanks for the great review, Carlisa.

    • I didn’t really think about it being a fairy tale historical retelling, but I really like that description of it. I hope you love it! Let me know what you think of it when you finish 🙂

  • I was a little bit conflicted when I read My Lady Jane, and I hope you can forgive me for only giving it 3.5 stars. I loved Jane and Gifford. I would give Jane and Gifford a solid 5/5, as well as the concept of reinventing the Reformation time period. I loved that Jane and Gifford did not have it easy. Their relationship was definitely not instalove, which I appreciate.
    Unfortunately, I did not really care for Edward. I know he was dying and all, but did he have to be so whiny? He acted more like an 8-year-old than a teenage king. I also thought that it read like a MG novel at times instead of a YA novel. There was a lot of good humor, but some of it was misplaced.
    Regardless of my opinion, I am so glad that you liked the book. I wish more authors attempted to bring history to life like the Lady Janies did!

    • Of course, I’ll forgive you, haha! That’s one of the things I love about the bookish community—we all have different opinions and that’s what makes it interesting.

      To be honest, I always kind of pictured Edward as a whiny little boy because all he’s known was a life of absolute luxury. He’s been king technically since he was nine years old (at least in real life, I’m not sure how old he was in MLJ).

      I haven’t read enough MG to know what you mean by that comment. What makes you think it fits more as a MG? And what do you mean about the misplaced humor? I want to hear more about your thoughts!

  • Gabi Dahlin

    YES YES YES I LOVED THIS BOOK TOO. Seriously, it was SO fun and so so so well done. I loved how playful it was, without being ridiculous. Even me (a medieval history major) adored it, I didn’t have to worry about historical accuracy because they made it so clearly different. Loved it! and great review, Carlisa!

  • Alice @ Alice’s Book Vault

    I have been meaning to pick this novel up! Thanks to your review I think I’ll have to pick it up sooner rather than later! Great review! ^-^