Lady Hotspur Disappoints



(2/5⭐️) Coming January 7, 2020.


I was let down by the telling-not-showing writing. DNF at 15%


Lady Hotspur is a retelling of King Henry IV, a classic Shakespeare play. I’m always a sucker for these types of retellings. “Strike fast, love hard, live forever.” The motto of the Lady Knights, a league of knights sworn to serve the ruler of Aremoria. The story largely follows three women: Prince Hal, Mora of the March, and Lady Hotspur.


When a deep betrayal shakes the kingdom of Aremoria, Mora of the March is faced with an agonizing choice: give up everything she's been raised to love, and allow a king-killer to be rewarded--or retake the throne, and take up arms against the newest heir, Hal Bolingbrooke, Mora's own childhood best friend and sworn head of the Lady Knights.


I did not finish (DNF) this book. As with all books I decide to abandon, I always read to chapter five, or more, before making my decision. I actually read a little further this time, hoping, longing for redemption. I kept thinking, “Maybe if I read a little further, I’ll find something to hook me.” I found a number of problems with this book. The writing itself was fine, but everything else felt problematic. A few things I liked: the gender bending aspects, though I didn’t feel that they were done well. The majority of the characters are queer, but commonly fighting the issue that they aren’t accepted for who they are, which is a heavy topic that I don’t feel this book did an adequate job portraying.

That being said, the pacing was too slow and detailed, leaving me bored. I found times that I read entire paragraphs only to realize that I’d been thinking about something completely unrelated to the book. What I mean is: I wasn’t engrossed, except with Rowan’s character. I actually found his character and story the only one I was interested in. The chemistry in the scene with him and Connley was perfect. If all the chapters had been like that, I would still be reading it.


The biggest flaw was the telling but not showing aspect of the writing. The reader is plopped into moments where things have just happened—important things like the opening battle scene, the fights during the tournament event, and even a few intimate first kiss moments—and we are told about it.


Excerpt from a tournament fighting scene:


“...Hotspur rolled her shoulders to loosen the tension a bit, and bent her knees. The judge called the match and Hotspur attacked.

It was a good fight, but in the end Banna Mora made sure to lose. Both of them were sweating, their grunts low, neither speaking, and Hotspur did not know which of them would have been fairly victorious. Mora was strong and precise; she herself was fast and determined. Shieldless, their swords served as both offense and defense, along with hips and elbows. But when Mora turned her wrist and nearly disarmed Hotspur, Hotspur was so focused on breaking away she didn’t see Mora plant a foot where Hotspur would trip her. Mora went down, crying out as she landed on her own arm and her sword flew several paces off.”


There are a couple of bits of dialogue after that, but it’s very abrupt, and goes on to say who won what. All in all, we were told all about the tournament, but didn’t feel like we were there living it with the character. It leaves no bonding moments between the character and the reader, creating a huge disconnect.


Ultimately it was this, the lack of character depth, lack of character chemistry, my inability to relate with the characters or get invested with them, and the pacing that ended it for me.


Thank you @Netgalley and @Tor for the opportunity to read this advanced copy. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me, but I can see how it would appeal to others. For those of you interested, tread carefully before buying...

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©2020 by Author Melissa Mitchell