Audiobook Review – Her Majesty’s Royal Coven

Title: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven

Author: Juno Dawson

Narrator: Nicola Coughlan

Series: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1

Release Date: 21/7/22

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 57
(see below for breakdown)

stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received a free audioARC copy from , HarperCollins UK Audio via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

If you look hard enough at old photographs, we’re there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple.

At the dawn of their adolescence, on the eve of the summer solstice, four young girls–Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle–took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department. Now, decades later, the witch community is still reeling from a civil war and Helena is now the reigning High Priestess of the organization. Yet Helena is the only one of her friend group still enmeshed in the stale bureaucracy of HMRC. Elle is trying to pretend she’s a normal housewife, and Niamh has become a country vet, using her powers to heal sick animals. In what Helena perceives as the deepest betrayal, Leonie has defected to start her own more inclusive and intersectional coven, Diaspora. And now Helena has a bigger problem. A young warlock of extraordinary capabilities has been captured by authorities and seems to threaten the very existence of HMRC. With conflicting beliefs over the best course of action, the four friends must decide where their loyalties lie: with preserving tradition, or doing what is right.

Juno Dawson explores gender and the corrupting nature of power in a delightful and provocative story of magic and matriarchy, friendship and feminism. Dealing with all the aspects of contemporary womanhood, as well as being phenomenally powerful witches, Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle may have grown apart but they will always be bound by the sisterhood of the coven.

My Thoughts

I adored this book. First the audiobook is fantastic, Nicola Coughlan is just fabulous she gives so much to each of the characters and it was just such a joy to listen to her narration. She was a perfect choice for this book.

The book itself is so hard to describe without spoilers but I will try. Juno Dawson sets up a fantastically relatable sisterhood right on page one. As a Brit in her 30’s I have had the exact fight with my friends in my youth. Who got to be what Spice girl? Which Boyzone member you were going to marry (I like the girls in the book was a Stephen Gately girl)? It just drew me into the book. Then how those bonds grew up and twisted as these girls became grown women and moved away from each other and the different directions their lives take them yet they still have that bond is just such a beautiful through line for this book. Juno Dawson also just beautifully captured the cost of maintaining those friendships, exploring the darker sides, the back stabbing, feelings of being left out or behind, the gaslighting that can happen, the bully of the group and how these friendships can become toxic and end. The characters are so strong in each of their unique perspectives and outlooks, that you can’t help but want to learn more about them. There was just so much depth to them all.

The world building was so complex, the history of this world, how witches live within it, how the magic works, where witches of colour and queer witches stand in the community, how those with daughters of there own work with the knowledge of magic, magical wars, prisons, hospitals, government. All of these elements are explored and they play into the plot so well. I love that we don’t just get a glimpse into the wonderful aspects of the magic but the political matters too.

The plot is also fantastic, it explores female friendship, motherhood and a splash of romance in a way that just keeps you glued to the page (or in my case extending my walk so I could keep listening). Dawson was not afraid to go dark, there are twists in this book that had me tearing up, that had me raging with the same anger as the characters, and elated with joy and pride in others. Without spoiling, the story has so much fierce love in it but also isn’t afraid to wade into those darker elements and ask why? I just thought it was a really powerful way to explore these topics.

I honestly cannot wait for book two. The ending was both satisfying but bitter sweet. there was also a sneaky little epilogue that left on such a fantastic cliff-hanger and I need to know what happens next. Its definitely a book I am going to re-read and a highlight of my 2022 reads so far.

I will say there are content warnings for, invasion of thought/privacy, racism, sexism, scenes alluding to "off-screen" domestic and child abuse, corporal punishment, murder, light drug use, gaslighting, intentional mis-gendering of a character and transphobic behaviour.

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 9

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 9

CHARACTERS – 9

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 10

PLOT – 9

ENJOYMENT – 10

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

2 thoughts on “Audiobook Review – Her Majesty’s Royal Coven

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