Published by HarperTeen on June 22, 2021
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult
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Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀⠀Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she's a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It's a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.⠀⠀Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper's nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary's secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀
I was not ready for the wild ride that was My Contrary Mary. And I have no idea why because all of the first two Jane books (yes, sorry I will get to My Calamity Jane soon) were equally wild. But if you loved the world and the characters from My Lady Jane, you will highly enjoy My Contrary Mary. In this novel, we see a return of the world that brought us humans who can shapeshift into animals (Eðians) and wild royals who are constantly trying to dethrone each other. And you may see some familiar characters in My Contrary Mary too…
My Contrary Mary very loosely follows the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. At least, I assume it does because I know embarrassingly little about Mary, Queen of Scots (okay I just did a Google search and the book is most definitely nothing like what happened). The novel also heavily features Francis, husband to Mary, and a budding prognosticator called Ari. It’s a bit hard to really summarise the book because there is so much that happens but it involves lots of shapeshifting, plotting, treason and a lots of humour!
The characters, first and foremost, are the highlight of the book. They are simultaneously outrageous and unpredictable but also highly relatable. My favourite character by far was Francis because I really connected with his story and he was definitely the unsung hero of the book. I also enjoyed Mary’s character, both her queenly side and her temper tantrum side. And I also really loved Mary’s four ladies in waitings… who were all also called Mary. Ari, I had a few doubts about her character in the first half of the book. I wasn’t sure what to make of her and some of her actions and the way she spoke irked me a little. But she quickly grew on me in the last quarter of the novel.
I absolutely loved the humour of the novel. It was witty and extremely extremely clever. I was especially amused by the predictions and visions that Ari had and kept dismissing as nonsense – they were all plots of 20th/21st century movies! And I loved the little clever mention of Brexit that came across as very innocuous. All of these humourous elements really brought the book to life for me and kept me engaged throughout. I finished the book in two sittings! What has brought down my rating of the book though was the plot. It seemed a little bit weak and the story progression was a bit strange to me. The last part of the novel was quite predictable and I found myself almost skimming through it. But I did appreciate what the authors were trying to do and I still highly enjoyed my experience reading the book. And I would most definitely reread it at some point too.
I really enjoyed My Contrary Mary and thought it was just the refreshing read that I needed. If you’re looking for an action packed story that is also a little bit bizarre, My Contrary Mary, (and indeed any of the Lady Janie books) is the one for you. It’s a quick read with some interesting characters and lots and lots of deception!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to HarperTeen for the review copy.
My Contrary Mary is out on 22nd June 2021.
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