Title: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1)
Author: Juno Dawson
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: May 31, 2022
A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches.
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.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was established by Queen Elizabeth I to protect her. Now, centuries later, Helena is the High Priestess, leader of the coven. Her friends are: Niamh, a vet who uses her powers to heal animals, Elle, a housewife leading a secret life as a witch, and Leona, who left to create her own intersectional coven. After Helena discovers a young warlock with extraordinary powers they’ve never seen before, she brings him to be trained and examined by Niamh. However, the warlock holds a lot of secrets which threaten to turn the coven upside down.
As soon as I saw this title I knew I needed to read this book, but I went into the story without knowing what it was about. It was a fantastic witchy story that we need right now.
This story explores gender and gender stereotypes. This witch world was divided into female witches and male warlocks with nothing in between. However, when a transgender character entered the novel, it threw some of them off. There was a lot of transphobia which was disturbing to read, but that’s the point. The real world and fictional fantasy worlds have not been nice to transgender people, especially in recent years. This intersectional look at witches was such an important and powerful read.
The final few chapters of this book were completely shocking and unpredictable. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.
Thank you Penguin Books for sending me a copy of this book.
What to read next:
The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon
Have you read Her Majesty’s Royal Coven? What did you think of it?