The humor, sass, and history-remix of My Lady Jane immediately drew me to the title, but now, four books into this series, I am beginning to wonder if maybe the Lady Janies should try something new. The story of Mary Queen of Scots doesn’t grow and flourish in this reimagining that includes animal transformation, and fans of My Lady Jane will see so many similarities (I mean,it is literally the same world) that they’ll be underwhelmed. Even as a fan of royalty and humor in my royal reads, I found this to be a rather disappointing tale that didn’t add much to the story, save Mary’s reputation, or anything in between. The only thing this book made me want to do is rewatch Reign.
Like their other books, this book is also told in 3 POVs: Mary, Francis, and Aristotle Nostradamus, the daughter of Nostradamus.
Our Mary here is Mary Queen of Scots, and we meet her as a teenager in France, right before she weds Francis. She’s got her four ladies in waiting–also named Mary–and oh yeah, she can turn into a mouse. We’re back in the Edian realm first visited in My Lady Jane and if you’re expecting something new in this one…take a seat. Anyway, King Henry decides that Mary and Francis must be wed, and it’s clear that political mechanizations are underfoot. There’s Catherine de Medici, for one, who is using Nostradamus and his daughter to spy on Mary and craft potions. There’s Mary’s scheming uncles. And there’s Francis and Mary’s awkward friendship-not-quite-love to contend with as well. Of course, things begin to go drastically wrong quickly, there are princes turned into frogs, marriages and stopped weddings and trips across the English channel as a bird and people faking their own deaths and grasping for crowns, etc etc etc.
This book has the usual Edian-animal transformation plot, some good ole deux-ex-machinas, and the insertion of humorous narrators and pop culture references a few centuries too early, but it doesn’t have the same oomph and awe that it does in My Lady Jane, or even My Plain Jane. This book just feels…forced, at times, and like the “narrators” are absent half the time. It covers a LOT of time and is weirdly paced in places. The Edian subplot felt disjointed as well–like it was just added in because it was the same “world” as My Lady Jane rather than offering a new way to approach the Mary Queen of Scots story and take it new places. “Oh they aren’t dead, they’re just hiding as an animal” is only cool the first three times, at most. I LIKE the story of Mary Queen of Scots and don’t feel like she needs “redeemed” in the same ways as the Janes they approached, but I also feel like other than the animal-shapeshifting thing and not ending up dead at the end of this book…not much was done to make this remix remixed. The introduction of Ari Nostradamus could have been cool…there was a nice little lesbian subplot, but ultimately it was a means to an end and didn’t really enhance the story other than making some of the plot things possible through potion.
Overall..eh. Like 3.3 stars. Not bad writing, at times, but hardly worth the time it took me to read this, and I say that as an ARDENT fan of My Lady Jane. Maybe it’s time to try something new.
My Contrary Mary is on sale everywhere June 22, 2021
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