At Brazos Bookstore in Houston, children’s specialist Liz Wright talks up a new novel that speaks to her fascination with the history of British royalty.
I’ve devoured period dramas since the first time someone handed me a book about Elizabeth Tudor and said, “Here, she was an Elizabeth, just like you.” I promptly disappeared down the rabbit hole of British monarchy, and have been utterly captivated by all the intrigues, beheadings, poisonings, and rebellions to this day. So when my HarperCollins sales rep said the words “Lady Jane Grey” and “alternate history” and “magic,” I knew I had to read My Lady Jane.
I haven’t had so much fun in ages. My Lady Jane is a smart and genre-savvy romp through history for equally smart and genre-savvy YA readers who like a little humor – and magic – in their historical romance. The story of Jane and her band of royals and miscreants, punctuated gloriously with asides from the novel’s cheeky, desert-dry narrators, is a fabulous tale of reluctant teenage kings and queens, marriages and conspiracies, and – of course – shape shifters.
As Jane finds herself married off, unexpectedly elevated, and facing a war between pure humans and animal shape-changers, the Lady Janies (the self-given nickname for trio of authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows) manage to avoid every clichéd pitfall of humorous, historical, or romantic literature, and create something delightful and new. The teens are smart and impulsive – they fight, they make mistakes – and the romance and friendships in this novel are just as bright and bold as any in the so-called “real world.”
My Lady Jane is a fact-revising, genre-bending, fourth wall-breaking magical romp through early modern history. It is the Tudor drama I’ve been waiting 20-odd years to read, mostly because all my favorite characters escape with their heads intact. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
Alternate and revisionist histories are my favorite trends sweeping young-adult fiction right now – we all know the way things really happened, so why not just take all that and throw it out the window? This is a fantasy. It’s a romance. It’s charming and clever and really, really fun, and I can’t wait to give it to all my whip-smart teen readers. Fans of The Princess Bride, Terry Pratchett, and Tamora Pierce will find this their next new read to devour.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. HarperTeen, $17.99 June ISBN 978-0-06-239174-2