Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is a dark and twisty paranormal story that will have you on the edge of your seat.
It was as if the cage were underwater, an aquarium. Inside the structure, a metal bedframe, a thin mattress, bedding, a dinner tray and a plastic beaker hovered, rolling and bouncing off the sides like they were caught up in a gentle tornado. Instinctively Niamh knew she wouldn’t be able to levitate such large objects under the containment measures, so how was…
“Where is he?” she asked. Other than the spiraling furniture, there didn’t look to be anyone in the cage.
Helena shifted her weight on her hip. “Top right corner…”
Niamh gasped. In the darkest corner, a skinny teenage boy was pressed against the roof, the way a spider hides in its web. His skin looked pasty, clammy almost, and there were dark circles like bruises under his eyes. Greasy, raven-black hair hung over his face. Niamh wouldn’t like to put an exact age on him—puberty is a fucker. He could be anywhere from thirteen to sixteen. He shrunk further into his headway, like some cornered creature.
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.
This is the first book in Juno’s new paranormal witchy trilogy centred around a group of witches who live very different lives but are brought back together when a deadly prophecy is foretold. The book is told from four POV’s: Niamh, Leonie, Helena, and Elle, who were friends when they were children but had grown apart. They are all very different characters. Juno created main characters with a lot of depth, raw, and definitely moral grey at times. I enjoyed reading the book from all their POV’s, but Niamh was my favourite, and I was glad her character had more of a presence in the book than the others. Niamh is such a wonderfully complex character who is a very kind-hearted woman at her core. She is willing to take a stand to do what is right even when it is hard. She is also really bad as a witch when she wants to be, which I just loved. The fight scenes that she is in had me at the edge of my seat.
Juno does a great job creating this secret witch world that exists alongside the mundane (muggle) world. The history that is described in the book is rich and full of wonderful details. I loved how she linked real-life examples (Salem witch trials, natural disasters, etc.) with the coven’s history. It is always interesting seeing how each author puts their own uniqueness on the paranormal world. This book has similarities to other witch books, but it is different enough to keep its readers interested and wanting to learn more about the world within this book. Juno does spend quite a bit of time focusing on social and political issues centred around the 2SLGBTQ+ community. This actually becomes the primary catalyst for conflict in the second half of the book. The book’s first half focuses on a prophecy that says an unknown child will bring about the end of days. Then in the second half, the main conflict change to whether a transgender child should be allowed in the witch’s coven. I loved how Juno focused on issues around the 2SLGBTQ+ community, but the overall story felt a little disjointed. I felt like there were two competing storylines one that was around this demon that was set on destroying the world and another around transgender issues.
Overall, this is a great book and the cliff-hanger at the end of the story will have you going online to see when the next book is coming out.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is a book that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Thank you, Penguin Random House for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.