Title: My Contrary Mary
Series: Mary #1
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Retelling
Published: June 22nd, 2021 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, HarperTeen, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“Which brings us back to our story, starring a teenage queen who hates being told what to do, a prince who has never felt particularly charming, and the daughter of a famous seer who’s about to be dragged into a political game of cat and mouse.
One thing’s for certain: it’s not easy being queen.”
Mary is the Queen of Scotland and has been betrothed to Francis, the Dauphin of France since childhood. It’s finally time for their wedding, which isn’t so bad since they’ve become very good friends over the years. Mary has gone so far as to even confide her greatest secret to him – she is an Eðian who can turn into a mouse, a secret that could mean her death if revealed, since France is a kingdom of Verities. When the king meets a suspicious end just days later, Mary and Francis are brought to the throne far sooner than either of them expected and they find themselves at the center of a conspiracy. The situation back home in Scotland isn’t much better either with the people protesting against the rule of a Verity queen. With even her own family and close confidants scheming against her, Mary must figure out the truth of the situation before it is too late.
I was so excited to hear that these three authors are back with another series of retellings, and I was looking forward to this one in particular, because not only is it a historical retelling, it takes us back into the world of E∂ians and Verities from My Lady Jane. My Contrary Mary brings us a somewhat revised version of the tale of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary is another one of those historical figures whose life was quite a sad tale with a tragic end, so unsurprisingly, I rather enjoyed this much happier, not to mention highly amusing rendition. The narration was just as wonderful as I remember, and the more contemporary voice used in the story continues to work beautifully. The very cleverly placed modern references often had me in stitches throughout this fast paced read.
With an interesting cast of characters such as the four Marys who serve as Queen Mary’s ladies in waiting, Ari, the daughter of the famous Nostradamus, who prefers making potions over predictions and a couple of scheming uncles, this was an engaging read right from page one. All the characters were quite well developed, and despite Mary being the titular character of this book, I found that I enjoyed Ari’s perspective the most. I loved that the characters from My Lady Jane had cameos and it was nice to see what they ended up doing in the years that followed.
I have very little to criticize overall, and will only say that the ending felt a little convenient, not to mention quick. It would have also been nice if Francis had more page time since I felt that we got to know his character the least. While My Lady Jane remains my favorite of the lot, mainly because it made me laugh more, this easily comes in second. My Contrary Mary was a true delight to read, and a worthy addition to the set of retellings from these three authors. While knowing some of the historical background undoubtedly aids in understanding the subtleties of this book better, it is just as enjoyable without it. Fans of My Lady Jane are sure to enjoy this book and if you’re in the mood to read a highly twisted and hilarious version of history, I would highly recommend it!
My Contrary Mary releases on June 22nd, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
Other reviews in this series: