It’s been a long ass time, book punks. I know that I’m not alone in feeling that the year 2016 has been a total garbage fire, and so I know y’all will understand why I haven’t been around so much. Between the ascendance of a rabid cheeto to presidential power and the seemingly endless sadness in my family, I just haven’t had it in me to write about the books I’ve been reading, but trust me, I have been reading a lot. When the world seems like an endless harsh toke, books have always been the best therapy, which is why I’m here to tell you about one of my favorites of the year, because it’s just too delightful to keep to myself, and because if I hadn’t heard some delicious things about it from a fourteen-year-old girl I probably never would have picked it up myself.
At first glance, My Lady Jane looks like just another fluff piece revisionist history type deal, and it is anything but. From the opening dedication (“For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door”), My Lady Jane put a stupid grin on my face. It’s a radically altered account of Jane Grey, a noblewoman who got sucked into some serious conniving plots and lost her head after just nine days of being Queen of England during all that crazy Tudor drama. Instead of the Catholic vs. Protestant type deal we all learned in history class (maybe?), we have regular old humans vs. shapeshifters, because when revising history, who wouldn’t want to spice things up with some magical morphing?
However, it’s not the infusion of magic into an already interesting period in history that makes this book so great; it’s the sheer joy with which it was obviously written. It’s incredibly silly, sharply witty, and full of oodles of Princess Bride and Monty Python references. It’s obvious that Ashton, Hand, and Meadows had a blast writing this book together, and that sense of unrestrained fun translates to the reading experience. Every single page of My Lady Jane felt like a welcome injection of bookish sunshine into my sad sack of a heart.
I will say that when the Lady Janies veered away from history and into a story 100% of their own making, the plot lost a bit of its structural integrity. A story this silly benefits from the anchoring presence of the historical narrative; pulling that anchor in allowed the narrative to veer a bit too far into fluff mode, but only a bit, and not enough to stop me from loving the shit out of this book.
So, bottom line: if you, like me, desperately need to transplant your brain into 500 pages of magical, irreverent glee, this is your book.