Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (HMRC #1)

Source: Borrowed from the Pasco County Library System
Pub. Date: May 31, 2022
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

Why did I choose to read this book?

I love books about witches and magic and women being in charge. This is yet another book that I requested on NetGalley and was refused. I think I actually had to put in a purchase request at my local library to get this one to be available. I hadn’t read any of Juno Dawson’s other work, or I would have bought it for myself.

What is this book about?

It’s kind of a James Bond-type setup but it’s a huge coven of English witches. They handle magical law, both creating and enforcing it. Men who are born with magic are kept apart in warlock covens and handle the same law enforcement for men who break the law. They call non-magical people mundanes and tend to wipe their memories or put them to sleep when magic doings are afoot.

This book is the classic “there is a prophecy of doom” kind of story. In the process of trying to stop the prophecy from coming true, the witches might actually be helping it along.

What is notable about the story?

I have never read a book that was so heavily transgender focused. I have read books with transgender characters and I am fluent in all the ways I can support transgender people, but this book really put the issue front and center. A male child is identified as the center of the prophecy in which the great demon Leviathan rises to decimate all witches. He’s so powerful and has no real control over his powers, so he’s placed with a witch that is used to teaching younger witches to see if she can bring his powers under control and perhaps keep him from summoning one of the most powerful demons known to humanity.

But it turns out that who they all thought was a male child was actually a trans girl and so he is a she and she is a witch instead of the warlock they all labeled her as. So Niamh (the teacher witch) begins training her (Theo) as a witch and all the TERF witches come out of the woodwork. The High Priestess of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Helena) is a childhood friend of Niamh and they get into it about how Helena won’t see a penis inducted into the coven and just…oof. The dividing line between allies and TERFs is very stark.

Personally the book may help someone decide what side they come down on, for better or worse. It’s very educational and someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with trans people will definitely walk away with a greater awareness of what it’s all about.

Also notable was the ending. I was SHOCKED, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Was anything not so great?

There is nothing that grinds my reading to. a slow crawl like e x p o s i t i o n. The book SLAMS on the breaks in the middle of the story for a ten chapter Intro to Trans People course with a minor in How Different People Deal with the Idea of Trans People. Oh my god. The story was humming along nicely and when I hit this part of the book it was like I went 60mph into a brick wall.

If you are someone who is already a trans ally and someone who works to deepen their understanding of diverse communities to be as inclusive and tolerant as humanly possible, you will probably have to push through these chapters. I know I’m probably spoiled by all these amazing books I’ve been reading lately that just treat LGBTQIA+ people like they are just a normal part of society. Reading a book where intolerance and outright violence towards these communities is still an issue was a bucket of ice cold water poured over my head. A good reminder for sure, but gosh it really slowed me down.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads. It’s an interesting story, but I don’t think it’s meant for me. If you’re a fantasy reader who would also like to learn more about trans people, this may be an excellent read for you.

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