ARC Review | Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven

by Juno Dawson

Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Goodreads | Bookshop | Waterstones

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.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an advanced proof copy in exchange for an honest review!

I mean, I don’t even know where to begin with Her Majesty’s Royal Coven? With the fact that it has cemented Juno Dawson as one of my favourite authors? With the fact that it has everything in the world that I love merged together in one book? With the fact that I have never been left on a bigger cliffhanger and I am quite literally going to die unless I find out what happens next? Or maybe that Dawson’s foray into adult fiction is a complete success and this novel is absolutely going to be one of the standouts of 2022. Yeah, all of the above. 

Her first adult novel follows a Spice Girls esque coven of witches, who used to be close but drifted apart. Then when an ancient prophecy begins to surface, they are forced to come together again, despite their differences and how much they have changed, and face the greatest battle they can imagine. 

God, this was a total triumph from Dawson. I’ve obviously been following her books for a while now, and have loved everything I’ve read – but this was next level. If she had not already found her footing before as a writer, then there can be no argument that she has not now with HMRC. A masterclass in pacing, character, story, wit and warmth. There are a plethora of characters in this novel but not a single one is wasted, same with the plots of the book. So much happens, and Dawson does an incredible job of weaving it all together so perfectly and leaving the reader breathless for the next page before they’ve even finished the one they’re on. 

What I loved most about this was the really subtle but also in-your-face commentaries on so many issues in our society today: gender, sexuality, womanhood, family, identity. This was just an incredible read, and it was bloody hilarious. You will seriously not want to miss out on this novel when it’s out next month. I couldn’t recommend it enough. 

Review: Wonderland by Juno Dawson



by Juno Dawson

YA Contemporary, Mystery

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.

Wonderland was my third read for #LGBTQMonth and it was very obvious to me when I started planning my TBR that this would be a book that I was going to read! I love Juno Dawson as a writer and had high hopes for this. Did it deliver? Let’s find out.

Wonderland is a clever contemporary retelling of the classic story we all know and love. I was excited to see how Juno would explore something like this with her dark tone and I was intrigued to see how it would fit into the “loose” London trilogy (the other books being Clean and Meat Market). After an unforgettable night with a friend called Bunny, Alice is distraught when the former goes missing and nobody seems to care. She decides if she wants something done then she must do it herself, but when her quest for Bunny leads her to Wonderland, an extravagant party for the elite, she runs into more trouble than anticipated.

This was another good novel from Juno. Such a quick read that I didn’t want to put down. The pacing was definitely Wonderland‘s strength—I was never bored at any point and Dawson definitely keeps the reader on their toes. Alice was a fantastic character and the setting was quite unique to a YA novel. Some unforgettable antagonistic characters weaved their way into this one and at no point did I know who to trust or who to root for, even Alice herself.

I don’t think this was quite as strong as some of her other books, especially Meat Market and I have to say I found the ending a bit underwhelming. I felt as though the conflict was wrapped up far too quickly and far too easily, and I wonder if this was a little longer there would have been more room to tie it up nicely.

Overall, a fun, enjoyable novel from Dawson but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation from her catalogue.

3.5 star

Review: Margot & Me by Juno Dawson

margot and me

Margot & Me

by Juno Dawson

YA Contemporary/Historical Fiction

Sometimes love has to cross all kinds of barriers . . .

Fliss is on the way to visit her grandmother in Wales – the grandmother who she doesn’t get on with – with her mother who is recuperating from chemotherapy. But her mum is getting better, that’s the main thing, so Fliss can concentrate on being grouchy and not looking forward to meeting her grandmother Margot, who is so cold and always so unforgiving of Fliss’s every mistake . . . But when the six months is up, Fliss consoles herself, she and her mum will go back to London and back to Real Life!

In the meantime Fliss needs to get used to her new school, not upset the scary girls, and just keep her head down (whilst still making sure that everybody knows she is from London, of course). Then Fliss discovers a diary at the back of her bookcase. It is from the 1940s and is set in World War II, and, Fliss realises, is actually Margot’s diary from when she was a young woman during the Blitz. Intrigued, Fliss begins to read. There she discovers a whole new side to Margot, a wartime romance and also Margot’s deepest, most buried secret. And it is then that Fliss discovers something terrible in her own life that she is going to have to come to terms with…

Margot & Me packed an incredible, emotional punch that I was not at all expecting.

I’m a sucker for any stories with a grandmother playing an important role in the story. Maybe because I am so close with my Nan myself, but they always just resonate with me so brilliantly.  And Dawson’s beautifully-written Margot & Me is a perfect example of that.

I think her world-building is always so captivating. Similar to Clean, Dawson manages perfectly to create a strong set of characters as well as a vivid setting. Her descriptive language is so evocative that it actually felt like the pages of the book pulled me in and I was enveloped in South Wales.

As well as that, I loved the complex relationship between Fliss and her grandmother. I loved how the story in the present was woven so well with the past through Margot’s diary’s revelations. Dual-time narratives are sometimes some of my favourite stories because it’s like your getting two stories/voices for the price of one! There was plot twist after plot twist, and I think this was done really well, especially to build tension until it finally climaxed towards the end and left the readers absolutely shocked. I’m so shocked I haven’t read this sooner – but after reading two of Dawson’s books now and adoring them, I definitely have to check out her earlier stuff. And I think you all should too!

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on Margot & Me! I’d love to know!

5 star APRIL

ARC Review: Clean by Juno Dawson



by Juno Dawson

YA Contemporary

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.
When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.
She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.
From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.
As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all … 
It’s a dirty business getting clean …

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!*

Clean, suprisinglywas my first Juno Dawson novel. I’ve been at two events with her now (Deptcon2 and 3) and it was only last year that I bought my first Dawson novel, Margot & Me. And unfortunately, it’s been sitting on my TBR for far too long (but I’m hopefully going to be reading it soon!)

From the get-go, I was terribly, terribly excited about Clean. As soon as I heard Dawson talking about this novel with an unlikable protagonist and a group of really diverse teens in a rehabilitation centre, I was hooked. I knew I needed this in my life.

And this is definitely going to be a contender on my Top 10 Books of the Year at the end of 2018… because it was absolutely amazing! I can’t believe I’ve been sleeping on Juno Dawson because she’s truly a wonderful author. Her prose is both deep and hilarious at the same time, and her characters are so well-rounded that I feel like I know them inside and out by the end of the novel.

What I really liked about Clean as well is that she took a few well-used tropes but twisted them around and did her own thing with them. The ending I wasn’t expecting but everything, without giving too much away, came full circle and I was left very happy. Clean is an intoxicating, addictive read that I flew through. It’s clear Dawson poured her heart and soul into constructing this socialite world, and Lexi Volkov was a treasure of a main character. Through her many ups and downs, we were welcomed into her life and her dark past and I think Dawson explored the problem of addiction really well using her well-crafted characters – some of whom include a girl struggling with over-eating, a trans girl, Kendall, struggling with anorexia (what a queen), and a guy coming to terms with his OCD. As for the others and their problems/addictions, I’ll let you all read it when it comes out and find out!



Review: I’ll Be Home For Christmas


Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release Date: 22nd September 2016
Genre: YA, Short Stories
Pages: 384

The UK’s top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon , Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah. GBP1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. 

I think it’s quite obvious from the books that I’ve read that I was really excited to get this book. I feel like I’ve been saying I’m excited for this book repeatedly in my last few blogs, but I can’t help it, I just am really excited about lots of books, lmao…
Anyways… the main authors I was looking forward to reading in this were HOLLY BOURNE (AKA MY QUEEN), LISA WILLIAMSON and my recently discovered new favourite NON PRATT!
It’s hard to talk about this book without going into too much detail about each and every individual story. If I had to pick my top three it would honestly be Lisa Williamson’s, Non Pratt’s and Juno Dawson’s!
I know, I know, Holly’s name isn’t in my top three and I feel like I’m saying the biggest sin right now but her story just didn’t do it for me. I found it (not dissimilar from a few others, might I add) to be a bit boring. I think my problem with it is that maybe I wanted more because I didn’t really feel like it told a story with a beginning, middle and end. Anyways, I’m going to STOP myself right now from slating Holly Bourne because she is a cinnamon roll and does not deserve it.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the stories because most of them I found to be too short but I think that his kind of anthology is a great way to discover never-before-read UKYA authors! Like for example, I’ve read nothing by Cat Clarke before but now I’m more than ever eager to get my hands on The Lost & the Found!!
Yeah…so, it was a small tiny bit disappointing but some of the stories hit home for me (Juno) so I’m glad that I read it.
Also, it put me in a real Christmassy mood so only 11 months to go!!!

I’m gonna give this 3 stars out of 5, although my Goodreads differs :/