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Throwback Review: The Wild Queen

Throwback Review from 2012!

The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots is a YA historical fiction novel by the great Carolyn Meyer.

When she was only six days old, Mary of Scotland was crowned Queen after the death of her father. Her mother was concerned for her future and set up a match for little Mary – a match that would one day make her the Queen of France as well by marrying the little dauphin. So, at only five years old Mary is sent to France to be raised alongside her future husband and the rest of the royal family.

It was unorthodox upbringing for a queen, but Mary grew close as siblings to her future husband and became a French girl through and through. Yet everything fell apart when her young husband dies and Mary, now a young woman of eighteen, sees her life fall apart.

All the years in France, away from her mother and her homeland, have come to nothing. She is childless, stripped of her title of Queen of France, and unwanted by her deceased husband’s grieving mother.

Trying to pull her future together once more, Mary is determined to return to Scotland and reign over what is rightfully hers.

But does Mary have what it takes to be queen?

The story of Mary, Queen of Scots might be familiar with many of you. If not, though, I didn’t want to go beyond the information I provided. In fact, I would’ve liked to have left even some of the information out – but I supposed you might want a general idea of what the novel’s about! Understandably so.

Carolyn Meyer has been feeding my captivation of young royals and historical tragedy with the Young Royals series for years. I have read all of them – except for Duchessina, which I need to remedy. One of the best things about the way she writes – she’s completely non-judgmental. For example, there are books focusing on Elizabeth I, Mary Tudor, and here Mary, Queen of Scots individually, all of whom were certainly not friendly with one another – yet each is given their own story and chance to see the difficulty of each life without an obvious preference from the author.

With The Wild Queen, I am once more floored by the pressure and expectation on young children – it’s both fascinating and deeply sad. Carolyn Meyer yet again creates a riveting drama with flesh-and-blood characters out of the pages of history.

An air that is ominous and soaked in heartbreak yet to come permeates the story, yet I was glued from start to finish by its expertly written, never-ceasing intrigue. The desire for power instead of mere title is an ambition of headstrong Mary’s that plagues her life. It makes her a cautionary tale, but also an admirable one of a sort.

Here we have gripping historical detail with excellent pacing. The Wild Queen is a sad story of bad decisions shaping a dismal future – definitely one of the most melancholy downfalls of a strong female ruler that I know of.

Among the disappointments and shattered aspirations, though, there is an amazingly strong bond of friendship among Mary and her three close friends since childhood – possibly some of the only relationships that could truly be trusted in her lifetime.

The Wild Queen may be an utterly despairing tale, and one that leaves behind many questions about its mysterious subject, but it is also an unforgettable one.

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