Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: The Wild Queen - Carolyn Meyer

The Wild Queen by Carolyn Meyer
Series: Young Royals #7
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on June 19, 2012
Published by Harcourt
Pages: 420
Read From: 3.5.13 - 3.9.13

Mary of Scotland is only six days old when she is crowned after the death of her father, and just five when she is sent to France to be raised alongside her future husband, heir to the French throne. Surrounded by friends and beloved by the royal family, she becomes more French than Scot. But when her frail young husband dies, Mary, now eighteen, is stripped of her title as Queen of France and set adrift in the harsh world, alone. 
Determined to reign over what is rightfully hers, as well as to claim the throne of England, Mary returns to her homeland. The fiery young queen must sometimes to go brutal lengths to establish her sovereignty - and she is just as willful about her love life. Hoping that a husband will help her secure the coveted English throne, Mary marries again, but the love and security she longs for elude her. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown. And her attempts to bargain with her formidable "sister queen," Elizabeth I of England, could cost her her very life.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. While I love the dress (I have a thing for pretty dresses) and the castle in the background, the cover is leering at me.

Characters: Mary isn’t the most sympathetic character. She’s rather spoiled and makes all of the wrong decisions - and all because she wants the English throne. The only time I felt sorry for her was the fact that practically everyone she thought she could trust used her, and she was never taught to be wary of those who surround her. The rest of the characters in the story feel like names. The factual manner in which they are written sacrifices personality, and thus these long-dead figures never come to life.

The Romance: It’s difficult to be supportive of any of the romantic attachments Mary develops, since they all go so horribly wrong. She’s no more than a child when she’s engaged - and then married - to Francois, and then her later husband when she’s officially Queen of Scotland is thoroughly despicable. If the Reader knows anything about the story of Mary, then said Reader will know immediately that the romance is doomed. So it’s hard to get emotionally invested in any of it.

Plot: The Wild Queen follows Mary’s life from when she’s five, to her death. Consequently, it’s filled with intrigue and court life, which makes for a very interesting plot. And since this isn’t an alternate history story, it also makes for a predictable plot (unless you know nothing about Mary, Queen of Scots). Whatever complaints I have about the storyline has more to do with writing style.

Believability: I actually don’t know a whole lot about the details of Mary’s life and reign. I know how she died, and I know of the dislike Queen Elizabeth held for her. I also know that people have turned Mary, Queen of Scots into an innocent victim over the course of years. The Authors presents both: Mary was a victim in the sense that she was betrayed by everyone she thought she could trust, but she was also eager for more power, willful, and made all of the wrong decisions while ignoring good advice. This, to me, seems like a very accurate portrayal. And I have never known this Author’s historical facts to be in grave error, so I trust that she is accurate as is possible in this book, too.

Writing Style: Carolyn Meyer has a very pleasant writing style and beautiful descriptions. However, in The Wild Queen, her style took on a more straightforward, “these are the facts” tone, and it caused the plot to feel like a more entertaining history book, and leeched the personality from the surrounding characters. I love Authors who use dates and place names in their historical fiction, but there can be an excessive use of it, and there is also a trick to it, and unfortunately it’s not one that the Author really employs in this book.

Content: Mary talks a lot about consummating her marriage with Francois, though they never do. However, the little act Francois and Mary put on for the benefit of King Henri is rather suggestive. Mary is raped at one point (pg. 369), but it is only the very barest of details, and the same goes for when Mary consummates her marriage with her second husband.

Conclusion: Again, if you know anything about Mary, Queen of Scots, then you know her story ends. It’s difficult to feel sorry for Mary at the end, because again she’s not the most sympathetic character. She brought a lot of her sorrow down on her own head. I’ve always enjoyed the Young Royals series - it provides very interesting looks into the lives of famous royal women throughout history. The Wild Queen wasn’t my favorite, however, because the writing style was just too straightforward facts, and not much storytelling (which you can do without discarding historical accuracy, by the way).

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royals series and historical fiction in general.

Others in the Young Royals Series:
1)Mary, Bloody Mary
2)Beware, Princess Elizabeth
3)Doomed Queen Anne
4)Patience, Princess Catherine
6)The Bad Queen
7)The Wild Queen

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