My Contrary Mary (Mary #1)
Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published June 22, 2021
About My Contrary Mary
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.
For a book that’s nearly 500 pages, MY CONTRARY MARY was a really quick read. The writing is really easy, and the paragraphs are pretty short, which is awesome. That made it even easier for me to get lost in the story.
This is a silly, fun reimagining of the history of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary lives in France, where she’s waiting to marry Francis, who will one day be king of France. He loves her, but he’s uncertain whether she has feelings for him that extend beyond friendship. As Mary nears her wedding day, a new lady-in-waiting joins her: Ari, the daughter of Nostradamus, a girl who is searching for her own place in the French court.
All three of those characters have chapters from their points of view. I liked that the story rotated between the three of them. There were moments for each of them where we really needed only the perspective that character could bring.
I liked the tongue-in-cheek, break the fourth wall style the authors use to tell the story. There are lots of asides where the narrators speak directly to the reader in little jokes or funny comments. I thought that was clever, and I enjoyed it. I feel like that’s always a gamble with readers, though– some people really like it and others do not.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book for its silliness and the sweet romance as well as the opportunity to imagine a happily ever after for a historical figure who didn’t get one. (This isn’t a spoiler, since the authors explain this out at the beginning of the book.)
I have only read MY LADY JANE from the other series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, but I enjoyed that book as well. It made me want to go back and finish that series. I think the second Mary book, MY IMAGINARY MARY, comes out in August.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Major characters are white, either Scottish or French. Ari is in love with another girl.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity in English. Strong profanity in French. Used pretty infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl. Kissing between two girls. References to sex.
Nostradamus and Ari have visions. Ari’s are all visions of scenes from famous movies. Nostradamus has some visions of the future.
Situations of peril. References to torture. Brief battle scene.
Francis’ father gets drunk in some scenes. Mary and Francis once played a game where they took a drink every time the king said a certain word. They were pretty tipsy themselves by the end of it.
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