Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: January 7th, 2019
I received a copy of Lady Hotspur through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Tessa Gratton’s latest novel, Lady Hotspur is an imaginative novel, one that is heavily inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IV. As you can imagine, that means that there will be plenty of politics and war. Oh, and did I mention that the novel has a very strong female focus?
There are those meant to fight, and those meant to lead. Hal was a fighter, born and raised as a knight. Only to be stuffed into the role of Prince, one her mother took the throne. She fought and bled for her mother’s rise in power, but the change is still a strange one.
Enter Lady Hotspur, another stunning warrior and a welcome distraction for Hal. She’s the Wolf of Aremoria – a violent and powerful warrior capable of taking on any foe. Lady Hotspur gladly shed her blood for the sake of this war – even while she questions its success.
Banna Mora lived her life expecting to take on the throne. While she may have survived the war and overthrowing of her uncle, she certainly lost her crown and any path leading to it. Now all she can do is plot revenge and hope.
One thing I would like to mention, before diving into this review; Lady Hotspur is the sequel to Queens of Innis Lear. That’s a fact I missed when excitedly picking up this novel to read, so I want to help make it a bit more clear here. I do feel that I missed out on something, thanks to my lack of reading Queens of Innis Lear beforehand.
“Never ignore the consequences of your actions, for such ignorance alone makes your actions unjust.”
I was so insanely excited to start reading Lady Hotspur. I loved the cover, the description, the inspiration, everything. So perhaps I went into this book with an unfair set of expectations. I’m not sure. What I do know is that this was not quite the book that I was hoping it would be.
Was it full of politics, war, and love? Yes, it absolutely was. Ultimately, it was the pacing that threw me off here. There was so much set up, which admittedly did create a beautiful world. But there is such a thing as too much, sometimes.
Hal, Lady Hotspur, and Banna Mora were three undoubtedly powerful female characters, and I was very much looking forward to getting to know them. While I enjoyed reading about their feats and their plotting (and their falling in love), I did feel like there was a certain lack of connection between myself and them. Maybe it’s the mood I was in, but given other reviews out there, I’m not so certain that’s the case.
I think what it all comes down to is that I didn’t read Queens of Innis Lear first – which I deeply regret. I’m hoping/assuming that there’s a stronger foundation there, one that would result in me feeling much more fondly towards these characters.
In short: I adored the concept of Lady Hotspur. A gender-bent version of Henry IV sounds absolutely amazing. I also loved the cover, which caught my attention and is easily one of my favorites so far this year. I also loved the sense of power and confidence behind the female leads. This is not something I want to be overlooked, so I’m mentioning it again here.
That being said, I didn’t end up loving Lady Hotspur nearly as much as I hoped. Actually, if I’m being brutally honest here, I struggled to finish this one. I don’t think I’d let this disappointment discourage me from reading more works from Tessa Gratton – in fact, I’d love to hear more about her other works (especially the predecessor for this novel).