by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Series: Mary #1
Published by HarperTeen
Release Date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Format Read: ARC, eBook
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 received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I flippin’ love historical fiction. I especially love 16th and 17th-century historical fiction that focuses on Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I or any of the six wives of Henry VIII and will devour any of it I can get my hands on. Unfortunately, that means that some of the books often feel repetitive because there is only so much we know without having been there. Enter My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows, who have found a fun and refreshing twist on the stories we all know and love.
The narrator straight up starts the story by acknowledging that the only thing historically accurate about this book is going to be the names of the people and the countries they travel to. Because in this story, dear reader, Mary Queen of Scots is a shapeshifter. It’s such a fun twist to disregard the real battle between Catholics and Protestants and instead reframe it as a fight for power between Eðions (shapeshifters) and Verities (non-shapeshifters). Mary’s mouse adventures were exciting and had me holding my breath, scared she would be caught.
Also, this book was just hilarious. I laughed out loud every few chapters, especially at the cheeky references to Reign and it’s many silly but entertaining storylines. It is so refreshing to see historical fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just tells a story and has fun doing it. This was my first book by these authors but I will definitely be checking out their Lady Janie novels too (especially the one about Jane Grey!!)
My only critiques come down to pacing and characterization. I feel like the main story didn’t even start until about 60% of the way in, and while I understand you’ve got to do both historical worldbuilding and point out where your version differs, some of the main plot could have really started earlier. I also feel like one of the main POV characters, Aristotle de Nostradame, was a bit flat and was more of a way to move the stories along for Mary and Francis than she was her own unique character. Overall though I enjoyed this book and will definitely check out the other books in the series!
Hi y’all, i’m Rachel! When i’m not reading or talking about books I can be found rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 72nd time, working on my own novel, cheering on JMU football (Go Dukes!) and taking advantage of all the great museums and breweries Richmond has to offer.
Check out my instagram highlights and Goodreads page for more reviews of all the books i’ve read this year!