Good but meh? 3 star ratings can be confusing at times 🤷🏽♀️
Description Summary | Imagine 16th century England but written by Regina George from Mean Girls and Erin from Derry Girls.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
Meet Lady Jane Grey, a 16 year old uptight bookworm who wants nothing more but her own library and some peace and quiet is forced into an arranged marriage with an apparent “man-horse”. Fun.
Meet Gifford, our lovely “man-horse” who is also forced into the arranged marriage. Gifford is cursed with turning into a horse every morning and then turning back into a human every night. Also he’s a secret poet.
Finally meet Edward aka the King of England but really he’s just an awkward teenager who dreams of having his first kiss. Oh and he kinda “loves” Jane, but he’s also the one who arranged her marriage? Awkward…..
In 16th century England as the tensions between the E∂ians; those with the ability to switch from a human form to an animal form, and the Verities; those who vehemently opposed the existence of the E∂ians and deemed them an abomination of humanity.
Through it all we see Jane as she navigates a new marriage and her abrupt rise to the throne. As a sympathetic who wants equality among the two factions, she was opposed strongly by every political corner you can imagine. Plus, external forces like the rebel E∂ian group called “The Pack” isn’t making things particularly easy by attacking and taking advantage of harmless citizens.
Gifford isn’t making matters easier, he’s handsome, kind, and is seemingly okay with Jane being an annoying know-it-all at times. Could it be that something is there that wasn’t before?
You know when you read a book and know it’s good but you can’t help but think: “if I were 15 or 16 years old I would have absolutely loved this book”. This was the case for me with My Lady Jane, to me it was on a very thin tightrope of being a 3 star rating or a 4 star rating. So I decided to settle in the middle as it wasn’t memorable enough for me to put a 4 star on it.
The book was a fun read (I’ll give it that) and as a teenage book I feel it ticks off all of those boxes of having a good balance of swoony romance and thrilling adventure teamed up with youthful banter. So in a way it served its purpose as a book but I just felt there is something missing that doesn’t make it a must read or a very impactful one at that.
Plot-wise I felt the story was smooth and there is a clear build up, climax, and ending; well structured. None of the plot twists really surprise me, and at times I felt some chapters were choppy. Like I said: not a “wow” book but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
The multiple POVs were written well; it didn’t feel like jumping suddenly from one person to the next without context. I loved seeing the thoughts that were in Jane and Gifford’s heads. I think without them this book would have been too one dimensional and monotone.
I wasn’t also really invested in the romance if I’m being honest, and the love declarations between our two main interests were a cliche. Just dramatic, over the top, and too “Disney”.
The tone of the book was probably one of the things that I least liked about the book. I know this sounds unfair but the writing style had a juvenile and immature tone to it. Since I never read a historical retelling with this kind style I couldn’t say if I would like it or not outright. And now I know the answer: give me dark, edgy, angst historical fiction from now on.
Though since this book is written technically to teenagers I can’t fault the writers for using that kind of tone and writing style, and this is just a case of personal taste as a reader.
Furthermore, I dislike when the writers ( in this case our “narrators”) pop up in the book and “speak” to the reader directly, ex: “(Unfortunately, reader, the much more portable pencil…etc)”. When you’re addressing me directly and adding commentary in the book, it really puts me off the story because (especially books with fantasy elements) I have to be totally immersed in the story and not get distracted like that for me to be completely invested in the book. Again this isn’t a “fault” of the book, it’s just a personal preference in reading that resulted in a lower rating.
The characters are well written, you totally felt like they were teenagers and I liked the “vibe” they gave off (if that makes sense). But again, nothing memorable to me. Nothing that would make me adore them and cherish them immensely.
However I do appreciate that the authors decided to showcase two male MCs who are softies! It’s still not often you get soft boys who are not “warrior material”. Gifford is a hopeless romantic who wouldn’t hurt a fly if he can help it. Edward is a cutie who’s all awkward and flustered; basically not a brooding asshole. I really love this kind of representation of boys who are not afraid to showcase their affection, and are not your traditional “masculine” men.
Yes let’s normalize this please.
We also had three sets of very different women throughout the story that all played integral parts of the plot. What I liked: Each one of them had a different strength and personality, and the authors chose to highlight each one in a way that defined them rather than pitted them against each other or outshine one but not the other. Jane was your planner and strategist, Gracie was your hot head rebel and fighter, and Bess was your diplomatic politician.
To conclude I would say the style and narration of the book is not for me. I wasn’t particularly invested in the story hence I have no intention of reading the next and most likely I’ll give my copy of this book to someone else who might enjoy it.
Do I recommend? Depends; do you like humor and sappy romance in your historical retellings? Then this might be for you otherwise skip!