MY PLAIN JANE
CYNTHIA HAND, JODI MEADOWS & BRODI ASHTON
SERIES: The Lady Janies, #2
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Paranormal Historical, Retelling – Jane Eyre
You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)
Or does she?
Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
I feel like, before I start this review, I have to be upfront about the fact that My Lady Jane — the first book in this series (By the way, they can completely be read independently, the only connection is the authors and the fact that both have a protagonist named Jane. You don’t have to read one to read the other) was my favourite book when it was released in 2016. My Lady Jane is the only book which I’ve reread in the just over two years since I started blogging. And, aside from the Discworld books, it’s the only book I’ve reread probably in at least 5 years. All that being said, I just want to put out there that my opinion on this book may be skewed. I’m not sure which way. I’m not entirely convinced whether I rated this book higher than it deserves due to some kind of loyalty to the original book, or whether in comparing the two I found this one lacking purely because it’s not the same as the first book. Either way, I feel you’re going to have to take this review with a pinch of salt.
That being said, it didn’t think this one was as good as the first book.
For one thing, the characters just didn’t feel as interesting to me. My favourite of the three POV characters (Alexander Blackwood, Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte) was not the titular Jane, but writer-and-busybody Charlotte. That’s not necessarily failing of the book, I just find it interesting that the character the book is named for, that the story centres around, isn’t actually the most interesting person in the story. I don’t think the book as a whole felt as well-developed or as three-dimensional as My Lady Jane. It didn’t have as many laugh out loud moments for me, and I didn’t think the characters or the relationships held a candle to Jane and G.
- There were definitely things I really did enjoy in My Plain Jane:Ghosts and spooky happenings are a good choice for the twist on this book. Much like the animal transformation as a metaphor My Lady Jane, ghosts and hauntings fit perfectly into the Gothic, mystery angle that the original Jane Eyre has going for it. If Jane Eyre had a fantasy element it would definitely be ghosts so this was just such a great choice. I liked that the authors picked a totally different direction for this book rather than stick too strongly to the world-building of the first book
- I really liked the angle the authors took with the Rochester’s and the relationships. It gave Bertha a lot more personality and agency and smoothed out the awkward Jane/ Rochester age gap and power imbalance. The romance between Charlotte and Alexander was really cute and awkward too.
- The ending was REALLY good. I loved the “storming the castle” and watching the girls come into their own, and the big ghost finale.
Overall, I think My Plain Jane is a good book — it was an enjoyable read and I certainly got through very quickly — I just don’t know that I would ever want to go back and reread it. It didn’t leave such an impression upon me as the first book.