Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
Hidden among us is a secret government department of witches known as Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (HMRC), originally founded by Anne Boleyn to protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. After a vicious civil war that saw many witches killed, peace now reigns, and four witches who have been friends since childhood are living out their lives in modern day Britain.
We have Helena, the youngest ever HMRC High Priestess; Elle who has mostly removed herself from the witching community in favour of marriage, a family and a career as a nurse; Leonie, a mixed-race lesbian, who has forged her own path and founded a new coven called Diaspora, which is more inclusive than HMRC; and Irish-born Niamh, a country vet in Hebden Bridge, whose twin sister, Ciara, fought on the wrong side in the civil war and is now incarcerated in magical prison.
When whispers emerge of a prophecy about a “Sullied Child” that will bring the HMRC coven to its knees and destroy the world, these four friends find themselves at the centre of what unfolds. Can they triumph over this impending threat?
This is the first title in a planned trilogy and it is just the most engaging and entertaining read. Juno Dawson’s world-building skills are phenomenal, and she presents the reader with a fully realised supernatural universe, populated with equally well drawn characters.
This novel positively crackles with witty dialogue and humour, but beneath the smart wisecracks and the Spice Girls nostalgia, Dawson also offers us a view of the political and social landscape of the UK, putting everything from institutional discrimination and exclusion, racism, and sexism, through to diversity, feminism and transphobia under her scrutinising lens – it really is a story for our time -and some reviewers have suggested that, amongst other things, this novel is Juno Dawson’s response to J K Rowling’s views on trans issues.
As you whip through its pages to its storming cliff-hanger ending, this is a novel that really makes you think about all the issues around gender and sexual politics, and it asks you to consider just what is and isn’t justifiable for the “greater good”, whilst at the same time completely absorbing and entertaining you. I loved it and really can’t wait for the next instalment!
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Review by Helen’s Reads
All Helen’s reviews are unpaid, unprompted, and honest, and are of books she has purchased herself, borrowed from the library or received as proof copies from publishers. You can read more of her bookish thoughts on Good Reads and follow her on Instagram @hels_t_reads