Published by HarperTeen
Published on 9 May 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Humorous Stories, Royalty, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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This comical, fantastical, romantical, New York Times bestselling, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey is “an uproarious historical fantasy that’s not to be missed” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind YA 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 gets to be Queen of England.
Like that could go wrong.
I really enjoyed this book.
Out of the three authors, I have read and enjoyed previous books by Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows, but I’ve never read a Brodi Ashton book yet. Together the three of them combine to something even greater than the sum of their parts: a quick-witted, smartly plotted, adorable historical comedy with lovable characters you can really get behind, and whose conflicts you can really believe.
It doesn’t hurt that this book has a very tenuous basis in historical fact, although the authors have taken fact, changed it a little, then changed it a lot to deliver on this fantastic romp through history if people could magically turn into animals. It has a great voice and a great attitude – the authors often insert themselves as narrators, which I found amusing and definitely added to the light-heartedness of the story. I really liked almost everything they changed in the history to turn it into a YA historical fantasy.
The one major problem I had with this book, and it was enough to deduct an entire star, was the authors’ stealing of jokes from other sources. There were many, many times when a joke was made that was lifted directly from, for example, Monty Python, and often the joke didn’t even fit what was going on. For example, two characters are sparring, and one blurts out the old ‘your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries’ Monty Python and the Holy Grail insult, which, although funny, did not fit the scene at all. There were lots of other jokes that I didn’t make notes of, and I’m willing to bet there were lots of jokes I found funny but am not aware of where they were lifted from.
I have a problem with this because the authors relied on too many jokes that were lifted from somewhere else without attribution. What if people reading it were not familiar with Monty Python? They’d think the jokes were original – and in the case of the hamster/elderberries, it absolutely did not fit the scene. Which jokes were original, and which were lifted from somewhere else? What made the authors feel like they had to steal jokes?
When Cassandra Clare did this in her Draco fanfiction trilogy, which then led to her publishing deal, it was outright plagiarism. I’m just not OK with stealing jokes, especially from something still in copyright, and trying to pull them off as your own.
I’m not impressed that so much in this work was not original. There are three authors FFS. I’d really like to say ‘the rest’ of the book was really great, but I don’t know what was stolen and what was original.
Then again, this book was written by three different authors, who all have different agents who would have also read it, edited by (probably) a few different people (idk the details of publishing!), maybe had beta-readers, and no one else seems to have a problem with all these stolen jokes?
It’s just not OK with me. The book would still have been hilarious without all the stolen jokes.