Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

One day three teen fiction authors decided to retell the story of Lady Jane Grey, best known as the Nine-Day Queen, and one of my favorite books was born. My Lady Jane is the story of a stubborn, book-loving, 16 year old “spinster” who is forcibly married to a stranger to secure a trustworthy follow-up monarchy for her dying cousin, King Edward VI.

While the real Lady Jane Grey was in fact married off to stranger Lord Guildford Dudley (named Gifford in this book) to secure the crown, the remainder of the book beyond that plot point takes many liberties with the story of Jane’s brief reign. The biggest difference is the inclusion of a bit of magic: many humans can shapeshift into animals.

The story also includes many laugh-out-loud hilarious moments. Lord Gifford, better known as “G,” has a very secret nightly occupation. For pages I anticipated something quite scandalous, only to laugh for five minutes straight after discovering his “dark” secret. Much of the book has comical twists like that moment.

There is a lot to praise about My Lady Jane. Crazy, unexpected twists are prevalent. The teen fiction standard of containing an exhausting love triangle is non-existent. The three voices of the book (Jane, G and Edward) are each written by a different author, and also get interrupted by their respective authors with hilarious narrator add-ons. The book also contains a rare "midlogue," which is exactly what it sounds like, and far more brilliant than any prologue or epilogue I ever read. The premise of the book sounds so absurd, and yet it works so well.

For read alikes, I can only recommend more of the same from these three authors. Two more Jane books are in the works: My Plain Jane about Jane Eyre & Charlotte Bronte, and My Calamity Jane about the famed American frontierswoman. These two books cannot possibly come fast enough. For a read alike that is already published, pick up the classic The Princess Bride and continue your laugh fest.

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