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Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson – ARC Review!

Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within.

There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple … but now it’s about to get apocalyptic.

Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.

Witches live amongst us. For centuries the HMRC has kept control over the Witches living in the UK. Now lead by Helena Vance, the Coven is at it’s strongest ever which is good for a prophecy has arisen, one that could lead to the destruction of Witch kind forever. Still recovering from the last war Niamh, Elle and Leonie lead their own lives, separate from the Coven, but Helena is quick to draw them back in when trouble rears it’s head. Life for Niamh, Helena, Leoni & Elle was significantly easier when their only argument was over who got to be which Spice Girl. Now they find themselves on opposite sides of a battle that they may not recover from. Sides have been picked, battle lines have been drawn and the friends will need to decide whether it’s worth dying for what you believe in.

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was an absolute blinder of a book, it starts off slowly luring you in, giving you plenty of history for both the world and the characters and then takes off with a bang. Told from the POV’s of our four friends, Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle, we see lots of different versions of the HMRC. For Niamh it was a time in her life she enjoyed, being able to shape the next generation of Witches, but also a time of immense grief due to the loss of both her Fiancee and sister. Now she lives a quiet life as a vet, using her magic only to help those in need. Leonie see’s it as a place that she never really fit in, the HMRC was not made for people like her, people of different colours, religions, sexualities. After splitting from the Coven and starting her own, tensions between her and Helena have been a little high, but Leonie did what she needed to make every Witch feel welcome. Elle was more than happy to leave her life as a Witch behind her. Now a doting mother and wife to a family who have no idea of her past, she uses her powers sparingly and only in dire need. She’s the Switzerland of the group, always trying to keep the peace and keep together her friend’s who have slowly drifted apart. Helena is the new leader of the HMRC and has set views on who should be allowed to join the coven, views that get tested and questioned throughout the novel. She knows how dangerous Warlocks can be after the High Warlock started the last war, and knows that men are the problem. She has very limited views on life, but is a woman who knows her own mind and will not be removed from her path once she has started.

Alongside our four MC’s we meet a multitude of side characters from fellow Witches, Warlocks to mundanes, people with no magical powers. Dawson weaves a large side cast of characters into her story, but it’s incredibly easy to keep everyone straight in your head. My favourite of the smaller characters had to be Theo. Poor misunderstood Theo. I can’t talk much about their journey, but they play a pivotal part in the plot and my heart absolutely bled for them reading this story.

The premise doesn’t really give away much of the story, which makes it so much more shocking and entertaining whilst reading, but does make it incredibly hard to talk about without giving away any spoilers. A big theme in this book is what it means to be a woman, is it biology that makes you one, or can you choose to become one at will. These questions are poured over throughout the story with main characters being on both sides. Some fight for the right for anyone who calls themselves a ‘woman’ to be included in the Coven, where as others see it as dangerous, as a way for men to slowly creep into a woman’s world and take over. I found myself getting incredibly angry throughout the story, that someone could have that limited a belief and be willing to kill for it, be willing to go to such incredible extremes because their way of life is threatened. But unfortunately that is the state of the world we live in today and Dawson does a great job showing the daily plight of trans people. The certain characters belief’s had me steaming with rage, something I’m noticing more and more with fantasy these days and loving, but please beware going in that their thoughts and actions could be extremely triggering to some, but especially to any trans readers.

The magic in this book was incredibly well written and pretty commonplace for anyone who is used to reading witchy books. But what Dawson does brilliantly is show the physical use of magic through her descriptive writing, every scene where it was used be it in battle, or a more mundane task was effortlessly brought to life and I almost felt like I was watching the scenes like a movie in my head whilst reading. I would say that the story started off a little slowly, I wasn’t 100% sure where it was going until about 40% of the way through, but once it get’s going it absolutely takes flight and I found the last 50% so hard to put down.

Though there is plenty of romance in this book, both straight and queer, the main relationships Dawson showcases is that of family, both through blood and circumstance. When our characters joined the Coven, they became sisters, linked in a way that is difficult to destroy. But what Dawson does brilliantly is show that as children we are so sure that life will work out the way we want, we have blinders on to life, rose tinted glasses that make everything seem possible. But as we grow, we see the reality of life, of people. We see the people we grew up with become unrecognisable, put things into motion, dangerous things, because their way of life is threatened. She really showed the intricacies of family, how you can love someone and hate them at the same time, and I loved reading all the interactions between our four MC’s.

My one question to Dawson? What the fuck was that ending? How could you end it like that? Why did you have to go and build me up only to break me? Ok, so I know that was more than one question, but seriously the ending of this book just blew my mind. Partially my fault because I had it in my head this was a stand alone, but I also just can’t believe she went there. Any who i’m a little broken and dying to get my hands on the next book, so if that doesn’t make you want to pick it up, I don’t know what will!

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