Knight Reads: My Imaginary Mary


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The My Imaginary Mary book cover.

“Sometimes history gets it all wrong.” That’s the slogan for the Lady Janies series, written by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. These unconnected tall tales choose powerful women from history and add a feminist twist and supernatural elements. My Imaginary Mary, the newest addition to the series, definitely lived up to its expectations. This brilliant, energetic novel took a fantastical twist on the true stories of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), and Ada Lovelace (the first computer programmer). Though the two women never met in real life, the novels intertwine their lives through magic, math, and imagination.

Honestly, I am in utter awe of the worldbuilding these authors have crafted. While it’s in real world 18th century England (they MAY have screwed with the time just a tad), the detail and thought that was put into the supernatural element of the story was astonishing. These magic users, called Fae, can turn the things they imagine into reality. It’s believed that all the great inventors, musicians, and authors were fae. With intriguing uses, meaningful implications, hard consequences, I could almost believe the magic was real. And let me say, no one has ever wished that it could be real more than me.

These two influential ladies have found their way into my heart with their clever, heart-felt personalities. The Lady Janies series, as it is written by three women, takes a feminist standpoint on the stories. The women in their books are strong, forward-thinking, and not in need of a man to fix their problems. In My Imaginary Mary, the narrators thought better of Mary and Ada’s historical husbands in favor of writing about women who fought to be independent and not have their legacy claimed by a man. These women strive for their dreams and the drive to fulfill them. Even the side characters have passions they fight for, like Mary’s step sisters, Jane and Fanny. Word to the wise: never underestimate the quiet people.

What stood out to me most in the book was its nontraditional writing style. The book shattered the fourth wall with witty comments straight from the narrators to the readers. As our authors live in the modern age (and know exactly what’s going to happen), the novel takes on a more self-aware tone. While it was sometimes a bit off-putting, with some cheesy quotes from popular media interspersed, the modern inventions the girls imagined before their time added a sort of ironic nature. The wry tone of the novel never failed to have me cackling.

Overall, I’d give My Imaginary Mary four out of five stars. I thought the tone of the book was a bit too consistent, and with the commentary and the style of writing it sometimes came across as a bit too droll. So I guess the novel was nothing life changing, but I’m fairly certain I could spend an entire day binge-reading the novel and be completely content. With witty energy and a feminist vibe, this passionate novel even managed to delve into what it means to be alive. If you’re looking for a novel that will keep you smiling for hours on end, My Imaginary Mary will more than likely have you laughing as well.