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Her Majesty's Royal Coven

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A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches. If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We ha A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches. If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple. 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.


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A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches. If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We ha A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches. If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple. 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.

30 review for Her Majesty's Royal Coven

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kai Spellmeier

    Something witchy this way comes...and when Juno Dawson writes stuff you just KNOW it's queer af Something witchy this way comes...and when Juno Dawson writes stuff you just KNOW it's queer af

  2. 5 out of 5

    Isla

    Okay, two things I want to say about this book: 1. The political aspect of it is spot on. Without giving much away, there is a lot of talk of social issues in this book, mostly surrounding the perception of transgender people. You don't have to think too hard to make the obvious connection that this book was written in direct response to J.K. Rowling's very vocal thoughts about whether or not transgender people should be allowed to -y'know- exist. I think the author does a great job of tearing do Okay, two things I want to say about this book: 1. The political aspect of it is spot on. Without giving much away, there is a lot of talk of social issues in this book, mostly surrounding the perception of transgender people. You don't have to think too hard to make the obvious connection that this book was written in direct response to J.K. Rowling's very vocal thoughts about whether or not transgender people should be allowed to -y'know- exist. I think the author does a great job of tearing down the typical arguments that people have, while also exploring why some women hold the view they do. 2. However, I didn't love the way the book was written. The prose was cliche. So, so cliche. Descriptions of grief, love, day to day life... it all felt stale. Described in ways I've seen hundreds of times before. The pop-culture references were neverending. Everyone was either A Good Guy or A Bad Guy, as if the author was afraid readers might not be able to figure it out themselves. The book has an important message to share, and I think it's worth reading for that alone, but it's definitely not my favourite in terms of prose. Hence the three stars as opposed to four.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This was a wild ride. Read 80% in one sitting because I couldn't stop. Her Majesty's Royal Coven is an urban fantasy about an alternate England that has a secret government bureau of witches. Four friends were first inducted into HRMC, but after a civil war, the four have been scattered. Helena is the only one who has stayed with HRMC and is the reigning high priestess. Elle has gone off to pretend t Thank you to the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This was a wild ride. Read 80% in one sitting because I couldn't stop. Her Majesty's Royal Coven is an urban fantasy about an alternate England that has a secret government bureau of witches. Four friends were first inducted into HRMC, but after a civil war, the four have been scattered. Helena is the only one who has stayed with HRMC and is the reigning high priestess. Elle has gone off to pretend to be a normal house wife. Niamh has isolated herself into the country as a vet after the death of her husband. And Leonie has completely left HRMC to form her own coven made up of BIPOC witches called Diaspora. When a young trans witch is found, she's assumed to be a warlock and captured by HRMC. Helena doesn't know how to deal with her and asks Niamh to help. Sadly, this witch is hounded by a prophetic vision of the future that spells doom for all witches and the rise of demons. When Helena finds out Theo is trans and wants to be inducted as a witch, she refuses and is determined to dispose of Theo by any means necessary. If you read that last sentence above and thought wow that sounds like a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) you would be right. Helena's words and actions in this book are a dead ringer for what JK Rowling has been doing with her massive platform. While I did enjoy this story, it was really hard and at times, physically disgusting, to be in Helena's POV and seeing the things she thinks. I feel like my brain could use some bleach after that. The lengths this character goes to in an attempt to exclude Theo and cause her harm is really illustrative of what cis people will do to exclude trans and nonbinary people. Besides Helena, I really enjoyed the other three POV characters. Leonie was my favorite because she's the best and I love everything she's done with Diaspora for BIPOC witch communities and for the queer witch community. I loved that Leonie introduces Theo to a Latina trans woman. That was easily one of my favorite parts. Also seeing Theo grow her powers and learn how to use them was so much fun. I do wish this book centered more on Theo, but I'm glad to witness some of her journey. I also really enjoyed Niamh's character. She's basically a hippie with magic. It's a whole mood and I'm here for it. Elle was such a soft mother, but oooo when people tried to go after her kid, it did not end well for them. Leonie, Niamh, and Elle are all so fierce though you might not always see it. Ultimately, this was a very gripping read. I could've done without the TERF POV character, but it's a great guide for cis people on what not to do/say. Rep: white Irish-British cishet female MC, white British cishet female MC, white British cishet female MC, Black-biracial British lesbian female MC, sapphic Nigerian-British refugee side character, Black-biracial male side character, white trans girl side character, queer Latina trans woman side character, queer BIPOC nonbinary side character. CWs: Alcohol consumption, blood, animal death, car accident, confinement, death, injury/injury detail, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, murder, outing of trans character without consent, toxic friendship, violence. Moderate: classism, death of parent, fire/fire injury, infidelity of one MC's husband, misogyny, racism, sexual content, sexism specifically cissexism, war.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alex M

    I really wanted to like this book. It sounded SO COOL, and so queer, and so fucking awesome. I received an ARC. My biggest issue with this book was that the writing just felt juvenile and underdeveloped. I almost gave up at several points throughout the book, but wanted to know how the plot wrapped up once the truth about Theo came out. Another issue I had was the characterization just wasn't there - I was *all the way through the book* and still had to struggle to remember who each character wa I really wanted to like this book. It sounded SO COOL, and so queer, and so fucking awesome. I received an ARC. My biggest issue with this book was that the writing just felt juvenile and underdeveloped. I almost gave up at several points throughout the book, but wanted to know how the plot wrapped up once the truth about Theo came out. Another issue I had was the characterization just wasn't there - I was *all the way through the book* and still had to struggle to remember who each character was. There's not that many! They all seemed the same, aside from Helena, and that's really only because she's the High Priestess and a little hard to miss. And her character, about halfway through, just becomes unrealistic. She veers completely into full villain territory kind of out of nowhere, and it only gets more and more intense. I couldn't believe how completely soulless she suddenly was at the very end when she is facing the ultimate consequence for everything she's done. That just wasn't borne out by the rest of the story. We also didn't establish any real connection between these women aside from 5 very fast pages at the beginning of the book when they are 12 in a treehouse. It is one scene and it is a weak one. So I wasn't able to really care about their connections to each other for the majority of the book. I appreciated what the author was trying to do in having Leonie branch off of HMRC to start her own inclusive coven, but we spend all of a few pages on that and then basically don't even touch it again for the entire book; the whole thing is about HMRC and the Sullied Child. Why did we even bother with Leonie's storyline then? It's not given any attention or care, it has no effect on the plot, and it's completely dismissed by HMRC. Not a great look to ignore the storyline about the inclusive coven that broke off because they were ignored. My last and final gripe, and I say this as a Super Queermo Non-Binary Leftist, is that the book really just felt like an excuse to write about queer politics and put a thin layer of magic over it. I want queer politics, and I want magic, but if you're going to put them together there is an art to doing that. I picked up this book because I wanted to leave reality and get a whole bunch of magic with queerness thrown in. I felt too much like I was reading about the shittiness of shitty people in real life who don't believe I exist, and wasn't being allowed the escape into fantasy that I was promised. I got something half-baked between the two, which ends up doing a disservice both to the fictional and fantastical aspects of the novel and the message of acceptance it was trying to send.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    ok conceptually, this was a really cool premise for an urban low fantasy. i was especially hopeful about queer and POC representation within a magical community. however, the way that this book was written felt extremely “othering” in regards to diverse representation. 3/4 of the main characters are all cishet white women. the 4th is the token black biracial lesbian that covers a whole bunch of diversity in one fell swoop. and of course, harmful stereotypes (deadbeat black father, angry black wo ok conceptually, this was a really cool premise for an urban low fantasy. i was especially hopeful about queer and POC representation within a magical community. however, the way that this book was written felt extremely “othering” in regards to diverse representation. 3/4 of the main characters are all cishet white women. the 4th is the token black biracial lesbian that covers a whole bunch of diversity in one fell swoop. and of course, harmful stereotypes (deadbeat black father, angry black woman, etc.) are perpetuated. any other diverse character, queer or POC alike, are very minor and underdeveloped side characters who are just carelessly written. (one of these side characters is non-binary and referred to as a “queen” in the very first sentence that they’re established as non-binary) i also take issue with much of the language used in the book. first, an ✨ambitious✨ amount of slang was used. by their definition, the words were used correctly but contextually, the phrases were jarring. reading this is akin to hearing your middle aged mother try to be relatable. however, my bigger issue was the use of the word “dyke”. to be clear, this is a SLUR that is historically used against wlw members of the queer community. though she is trans, juno dawson is a straight woman. it was extremely uncomfortable to see this offensive word used by a straight woman, particularly in such a casual manner. finally, the actual plot and world building, etc. unfortunately i had issues here as well. first, to claim that Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is the largest and most powerful coven in the world feels extremely UK-centric. given that many non-european cultures have stories and myths about their own forms of magic wielders, it feels like a gross oversight to imply that British (ie. majority white) people are the primary users of magic. as for the plot, it was fine?? though, for a 400 page book, there was very little actual plot. in theory, this book could have been an interesting rebuttal to transphobic and POC-tokenizing works of jk rowling. while well-intentioned, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven fell disappointingly short.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Casey Bee థ

    I loved this book! The story itself, the characters, the beliefs, the realness—I just loved it. Short summary: In this world, there is a royal coven of witches working for the Queen of England. HMRC follows now adult childhood friends. Helena is still in the royal coven and runs it as High Priestess. Elle is trying to ignore the fact that she’s a witch and live a “normal” suburban life. Niamh is a veterinarian, using her magical gifts to help. And Leonie (who is arguably my favorite character, a I loved this book! The story itself, the characters, the beliefs, the realness—I just loved it. Short summary: In this world, there is a royal coven of witches working for the Queen of England. HMRC follows now adult childhood friends. Helena is still in the royal coven and runs it as High Priestess. Elle is trying to ignore the fact that she’s a witch and live a “normal” suburban life. Niamh is a veterinarian, using her magical gifts to help. And Leonie (who is arguably my favorite character, although I loved them all except Helena) started her own coven for minority witches. When a prophecy is seen about a child ending witchkind as we know it, Helena will stop at nothing to prevent this prophecy from coming to fruition. The rest of the friends realize that Theo is not a threat, simply a very confused teenage trans witch who needs help and love, not to be feared and ostracized. First, the plot itself is excellent. It grasped me and pulled me in and I was dying to know what was going to happen next. It all made sense and came together nicely. THE ENDING!!! Second, the world. I love the idea of Queen Elizabeth years ago gathering witches to form a royal coven. Makes sense honestly, if witches are real, why wouldn’t you. There are witches and warlocks, but witches are much more powerful and in the magical world the women are the more revered. Which is a nice juxtaposition to the human world that exists right alongside it, which clearly men have been, and still are, the more powerful. The best part of the book is Theo, and through Theo, the portrayal of the trans community. Theo is off-the-charts powerful with magic, which is confusing because witches are more powerful than warlocks and Theo was male. It doesn’t make sense to the friends. BUT Theo comes out as trans. She is a witch, not a warlock, always has been regardless of what body she was born into. And the magic, that naturally occurring force, knew it too. And Theo is a powerful witch! Undeniable! What a perfect metaphor to portray a trans person. It’s always been there, it’s undeniable, it’s the truth. As much as I despised Helena, by way of her, it gives insight into people who cannot comprehend the trans community, how they see it from their perspective. It’s also super charged for women’s rights in general and the struggles women face just by being a woman. The book is honestly just so important and powerful, on so many levels, while simultaneously being a kickass fantasy story. I try to keep my reviews on the shorter side, but this isn’t doing it justice. Job well done Juno Dawson!

  7. 5 out of 5

    rachel ~ trans rights are human rights

    lmao what the WHAT!!! i need to think on this one, but right now it’s a tentative 3.5 rounded up. the first 40% was a bit of a slog, but holy hell did it take off once it hit the accelerator. --- i received this DRC from edelweiss+, thank you penguin books! four childhood best friends reunite when an oracle sees the rise of a powerful, evil force come to destroy witchkind, and the four find themselves squaring off, their loyalties and beliefs tested. this urban fantasy is timely and direct: what lmao what the WHAT!!! i need to think on this one, but right now it’s a tentative 3.5 rounded up. the first 40% was a bit of a slog, but holy hell did it take off once it hit the accelerator. --- i received this DRC from edelweiss+, thank you penguin books! four childhood best friends reunite when an oracle sees the rise of a powerful, evil force come to destroy witchkind, and the four find themselves squaring off, their loyalties and beliefs tested. this urban fantasy is timely and direct: what does it mean to be a transgender witch? what's more important, tradition or progress? what matters more, ideals or life? how far will you go to attain power? what would pit you against your dearest friends? who would you put in harm's way to get what you want? it is written for a modern audience who grew up in the 90s, full of references to Spice Girls, horror movies, and modern music. while i had a hard time getting into the story--we follow four POVs, and dawson takes her time setting up the stakes and the world--by the time i hit 40%, i was caught up in the magical world and didn't want to stop reading. it is extremely cinematic, especially towards the end: i could easily see this being adapted into a tv series, and i'd say the last 20% was written for a visual medium. one of my favorite parts about it was the relationship between multiple generations of women. we have elder witches who set the standards and the current generation, who must contend with the world they were handed over: do they want to continue down their current path or forge a new one? and finally with their daughters, the witches the women are building a future for. i had a hard time believing a few of the characters, particularly leonie and chinara. i liked them, but they felt a little... not real. they are two Black women written by an white woman, and it was obvious that the author isn't Black. which isn't a problem, and i'm glad their characters were included, but the Black Mass in which we see Leonie lead the service was weird. that whole scene didn't sit well with me, though i don't know if i can put into words exactly why. i loved the concept of the Diaspora, a coven for witches of color, and the strain that it puts on the HMRC, the "official" coven, and disrupting the status quo. there is also a scene in which Leonie and Chinara are discussing the difficulties of being Black witches and they talk shit about white witches and white feminism, and Leonie apologizes to Niamh, a white woman, multiple times. i'm fairly certain it's meant to show some sort of humor, but the whole thing just didn't sit quite right with me. it felt too "but you're a good white witch, don't worry, main character." the ending though -- it was exciting, action-packed, and set us up for the next book perfectly. the worst part about reading ARCs is that it feels like i have to wait so much longer for the sequel!! there are so many questions left unanswered that is going to make for an incredible second novel, and hopefully things get even more wacky. my favorite characters were definitely Theo, Holly, and Snow, and i'm ready to see how their relationships develop. (the pink uk cover >>> the black and red us cover)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    *Thank you to Harper Voyager for sending me an ARC of this book to review!* I haven’t really read much urban (I think that’s the right word!) fantasy recently, so diving into this was actually pretty interesting and refreshing. If you want an adult fantasy novel with a unique concept, a diverse cast of characters and LGBT issues at its heart - this might just be the book for you. You’ve got a bunch of modern witches set on taking down the bad guys, what more could you want? Considering how intimid *Thank you to Harper Voyager for sending me an ARC of this book to review!* I haven’t really read much urban (I think that’s the right word!) fantasy recently, so diving into this was actually pretty interesting and refreshing. If you want an adult fantasy novel with a unique concept, a diverse cast of characters and LGBT issues at its heart - this might just be the book for you. You’ve got a bunch of modern witches set on taking down the bad guys, what more could you want? Considering how intimidating this book looks from its size, it had really great consistent pacing. It kept the flow really nicely and it was actually really easy to read. It felt like most of the book was dialogue which I liked from an enjoyment perspective, but not really from a world-building one. It had some good humour in there and for the most part was quite light hearted, I found I didn’t really mind the pop culture references too much either. Though I think it was fairly good and I know a lot of people will really adore several aspects of this book, I didn’t really connect with it as much as I wanted to. I was a little confused as to why the book had so many points of view thrown in, and then halfway half of those characters never got a chapter again and we instead focused on (in my opinion) the least interesting of the bunch. I’m easily confused anyway, so the perspective shifts at the beginning were a bit jolting but they got easier to follow as time went on. I really liked how directly societal issues were brought forward and challenged in here, especially focusing on racism and trans issues within this coven. It was an interesting and important way to bring these issues to light through fantasy fiction and it was handled brilliantly and something I’ve never seen done before in a fantasy book. It didn’t hold back on being straight to the point and calling out discrimination and wrongdoing. I feel like this book felt like a very safe space in some ways, the characters make everyone feel loved and accepted into their world and it’s nice. It is of course difficult to read at times because of the subject matter. Overall, I was left feeling very in the middle about this book. I didn’t feel particularly attached to the characters or their story, and it felt like I was really a whole lot about not much at all. It was fun, but a bit lacking when you strip it back. Plot wise it was pretty slow and not really as eventful and tense as I’m used to fantasy being, there was very minimal action and the magic felt like it had a low profile. The world building was almost non-existent and it almost felt like we were just supposed to accept that this was how the world was without much of a history. I just don’t feel that strongly about it, and I’d be surprised if I ever get around to reading the sequel. For what it’s worth though, that plot twist at the end was pretty brilliant I will admit.

  9. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    HMRC tells the story of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department based in Manchester. However, when the genocide of all witches is foreseen by the agency's oracles, consensus on how to tackle the prophecy threatens to tear apart a group of lifelong friends. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram HMRC tells the story of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department based in Manchester. However, when the genocide of all witches is foreseen by the agency's oracles, consensus on how to tackle the prophecy threatens to tear apart a group of lifelong friends. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I’m glad I read this and didn’t put it off like I do most books - it was absolutely amazing. The synopsis does not do it justice. There are a lot of social issues addressed (race, trans rights, feminism, misogyny, sisterhood, and the list goes on…), but yet the witchcraft and fantasy parts of the story were never lost. It had me hooked right from the beginning. Sequel now please?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Yet another ‘could not put down’!!!!!!! This was a fantastic story, and I cannot thank Taylor enough for pointing it out to me. Cannot wait until the second book comes out. If you like witches, warlocks, and of course, conflict, you will love this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan Bassett

    Her Majesty’s Royal Coven:a top secret government department of witches who protect mere mortals and those most precious to them from the evil going on beyond the veil of what most of us see. They are sworn to protect crown and country from the magical forces that are set on taking everything from us, and leaving everyone at their mercy. Something horrific and abhorrent is stirring. Rising.Restless.Should those who can see the future be correct in their visions, it shall end all of humanity. Four f Her Majesty’s Royal Coven:a top secret government department of witches who protect mere mortals and those most precious to them from the evil going on beyond the veil of what most of us see. They are sworn to protect crown and country from the magical forces that are set on taking everything from us, and leaving everyone at their mercy. Something horrific and abhorrent is stirring. Rising.Restless.Should those who can see the future be correct in their visions, it shall end all of humanity. Four friends who are part of this supreme service are sure there must be a solution to such a damning and bleak situation they see before them. Helena,Niamh,Leonie,and Elle, must set aside their differences after not seeing each other since being displaced after a civil war several years earlier, and set out to do what they must to ensure the safety of both the coven, and all of mankind yet the rift that has built over the years may be too strong to ignore now that Helena is High Priestess. The Sullied Child. Captured under Helena’s watchful eye, this anomaly could be the answer to all of her problems but this prisoner is far from cooperative,that is until someone steps in with a plan to help them see that Her Majesty’s Royal Coven only wants to help. Helena shall stop at nothing to banish this child if that’s what it takes to halt the prophecy from coming true, but after a stark revelation leaves her out of options she releases she has to call upon a power that may be more than she can handle, for the most wicked of souls demands much more than most can offer… The first of a spellbinding series, Juno will have you firmly under her hex of witches, magic, love, friendship and nineties nostalgia,all culminating in a story which will keep you gripped and awake long into the night for there truly is something magical inside these pages.

  13. 5 out of 5

    G L

    the most fun i’ve had in a while and a huge fuck you to j*r we love to see it

  14. 5 out of 5

    agata

    Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is the first book in a series of books following four witches who used to be childhood friends: Helena, Leonie, Elle, and Niamh. Their friendship started many years ago, when they were young girls and their group had one more member. Now, the women are in their thirties and on very different life paths - Elle is a housewife, Helena runs the biggest coven in the United Kingdom, Niamh works as a vet, and Leonie started a more diverse coven of her own - but a mysterious te Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is the first book in a series of books following four witches who used to be childhood friends: Helena, Leonie, Elle, and Niamh. Their friendship started many years ago, when they were young girls and their group had one more member. Now, the women are in their thirties and on very different life paths - Elle is a housewife, Helena runs the biggest coven in the United Kingdom, Niamh works as a vet, and Leonie started a more diverse coven of her own - but a mysterious teenager with incredibly strong powers forces them back together. Who is the teenager and can a child be the source of more devastation than the world has ever seen? Or does everyone deserve a chance to prove themselves? I must admit that I went into this book with pretty average expectations. As much as I like fantasy, I rarely find 5 star reads in this particular genre. But Her Majesty’s Royal Coven absolutely blew me away - I loved the world building, the plot kept me hooked from the first pages and was so captivating that I simply devoured the 400+ pages in 3 days. The ending was so shocking and brilliant that it had me desperately googling for information about the publication date for the next part. But what I loved most about this book was how unapologetically queer it was. It’s difficult not to treat it as partially a response to J.K. Rowling and the rise of TERFism that has been plaguing the United Kingdom (transphobia is a huge part of the plot), and I can’t describe how satisfying it is to see this topic being the main focus of a novel. The magic in Dawson’s world is beautiful and diverse, although by no means is it a perfect world - it also struggles with issues such as racism or the already mentioned transphobia. But Dawson faces these issues head on: she’s not a Black woman so in the beginning I was a bit worried about how she would approach writing Leonie, a Black lesbian witch who has experienced the lack of inclusivity in her world, but I liked that Leonie’s storyline was important and left me wanting to see more of it. I was also happy to see that Dawson worked with a sensitivity reader, which is always a plus in my book. TLDR: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is a brilliant, riveting fantasy book that is beautifully queer and diverse, and proud of it. It immediately became one of my favorite fantasy novels ever, and I truly can’t wait to read the next part!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    After 4 friends, Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle, took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven they all went their separate ways. Helena is the current High Priestess of HMRC, Elle has started her own inclusive and intersectional coven with her wife, Elle is a housewife and Niamh is a vet. When a young warlock that the Oracles have prophesized will raise the Leviathan, the 4 friends come back together to keep him from threatening HRMC. This was a new author for me and I was not disappointed. Th After 4 friends, Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle, took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven they all went their separate ways. Helena is the current High Priestess of HMRC, Elle has started her own inclusive and intersectional coven with her wife, Elle is a housewife and Niamh is a vet. When a young warlock that the Oracles have prophesized will raise the Leviathan, the 4 friends come back together to keep him from threatening HRMC. This was a new author for me and I was not disappointed. The story flowed well and it was exciting. There are discussions about trans rights in the book with both sides being addressed and the author did an excellent job addressing it without staying one sided. All four of these girls are vastly different, but they were able to work together throughout the book. Each individual talent was unique in its own right and appreciated by the others. Each of them had their own personal problems that they were able to talk about without judgment or questions. The story was, for me, unique and intriguing. It had a good balance between happy and sad parts and all of the characters were great (yep, even the bad guys). It also had surprises left and right. I read the book in 2 days because it was so hard to put down. There was always a “what now” or “why” moment that had me moving onto the next chapter. Some of the sadder parts made me have to take a break and the ending had me sitting with my mouth open going “you can’t end it like that!”. I cannot wait for book 2. I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy adult fantasy. (Thanks to the author for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew (BritBookBoy)

    What the actual f*ck was that ending? Insane. Incredible. Twisted. I neeeed book 2! RTC

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carrington (ctonreads)

    This had a REALLY strong start. I thought I’d be giving it 4 or maybe even 5 stars. I loved the characters, I loved the magic, and I really loved all of their relationships with one another. But unfortunately, at about halfway through, the book took a turn for the worse. It got incredibly boring and just…. dull. I suddenly didn’t care about anything going on anymore because it was so dragged out or just uneventful. And then, I started to really hate the characters. Helena for obvious reasons, sh This had a REALLY strong start. I thought I’d be giving it 4 or maybe even 5 stars. I loved the characters, I loved the magic, and I really loved all of their relationships with one another. But unfortunately, at about halfway through, the book took a turn for the worse. It got incredibly boring and just…. dull. I suddenly didn’t care about anything going on anymore because it was so dragged out or just uneventful. And then, I started to really hate the characters. Helena for obvious reasons, she’s a TERF. But then when it’s revealed that Elle’s husband is cheating on her, and that Leonie and Niamh KNOW ABOUT IT…. Yeah. I was officially done. They kept refusing to tell her because they didn’t want her to not be happy. And then they just threaten him to make him stop cheating. It was so stupid and shitty. What terrible friends. But then the whole rest of the book is them talking about how much the three of them love and adore each other and how they will always protect one another. Give me a break. Pretty inconsistent and honestly, laughable writing from Juno Dawson. What a downright shit cast of characters. For the cheating and shitty friend group alone, I took my rating down from 3 stars to 2. It is also the sole reason I won’t read the next book. But not a 1 star because this was still a great message about intersectionality and trans rights. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven - 2/5 Stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    BRUTAL ending. I simply have no words. Where is book two 👀👀👀👀

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Moore

    THE BOOK OF THE YEAR. Just excellence from start to finish. My god I loved it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leith Devine

    I liked this book a lot, it was interesting and creatively plotted. There exists a group of witches called the HMRC, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. The group was started by Queen Elizabeth 1 and was off and on until Queen Victoria brought it back. It’s a covert department of the British government. As young girls, 4 friends took the oath together. A recent civil war has left the country’s witches and warlocks rebuilding their covens. Helena is in charge of the HMRC. When an extraordinary young boy i I liked this book a lot, it was interesting and creatively plotted. There exists a group of witches called the HMRC, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. The group was started by Queen Elizabeth 1 and was off and on until Queen Victoria brought it back. It’s a covert department of the British government. As young girls, 4 friends took the oath together. A recent civil war has left the country’s witches and warlocks rebuilding their covens. Helena is in charge of the HMRC. When an extraordinary young boy is discovered who possesses extremely strong powers and might be the fulfillment of a prophecy, she sends him to her old friend Niamh to determine if he’s an existential threat to the HMRC. What Niamh discovers puts her at odds with the HMRC, her friend Helena, and others who fear both the prophecy and the boy. Niamh and her childhood friends Leonie and Elle must literally battle witches and warlocks. Can the three friends find common ground through their coven bonds? Does an existential threat really exist? You’ll have to read the book to find out! This is the first book in a series, and I’m excited to read the next book! 4 stars. Synopsis If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple. 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 and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed as in this review are completely my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Hlavaty (readingwithkelsey)

    I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Honestly, I really did not enjoy this at all but the I think the political message behind the novel and the direct fuck you to TERF.K. Rowling was interesting enough to warrant it more than a 1 star. Unfortunately though, I hated the writing in this and I just could not get into this book at all. I had a feeling from the first couple o I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Honestly, I really did not enjoy this at all but the I think the political message behind the novel and the direct fuck you to TERF.K. Rowling was interesting enough to warrant it more than a 1 star. Unfortunately though, I hated the writing in this and I just could not get into this book at all. I had a feeling from the first couple of pages that this would not be the book for me, but I wanted to push through because the premise sounded so interesting. And it was - but Dawson has a writing style that I really just could not jive with. Also, and I am sure this was intentional, the novel was so campy and cliche. The amount of millennial references and nodes to Spice Girls.... I was just rolling my eyes. I did absolutely adore the growth of Theo in the novel and how she becomes her own person. She was probably the only character I liked and rooted for. Everyone else was hella boring. I am really sad that I didn't love this book because, like I said, Theo's journey with her identity and the conversation the book has about trans community's struggles. Hopefully, I can read more Juno Dawson in the future.

  22. 4 out of 5

    A.Y. Chao

    Sorry, i have to get this scream out first: JUNO DAWSON HOW COULD YOU!!!!!!!! (view spoiler)[;laskdfj;and shop;ieawhfasdnvas;il;sdf that ending! OMG Noooooooooooooo!!!!! urhghgndh a;lhsdfoeudjhcah;!!!!!! (hide spoiler)] but, okay, there are two more to come for which I am so happy but I don’t know if (view spoiler)[ I will survive the dagger you so gleefully stabbed into my heart (hide spoiler)] *smooths down hair* ahem. This was one of my most highly anticipated releases for 2022 and boy oh boy Sorry, i have to get this scream out first: JUNO DAWSON HOW COULD YOU!!!!!!!! (view spoiler)[;laskdfj;and shop;ieawhfasdnvas;il;sdf that ending! OMG Noooooooooooooo!!!!! urhghgndh a;lhsdfoeudjhcah;!!!!!! (hide spoiler)] but, okay, there are two more to come for which I am so happy but I don’t know if (view spoiler)[ I will survive the dagger you so gleefully stabbed into my heart (hide spoiler)] *smooths down hair* ahem. This was one of my most highly anticipated releases for 2022 and boy oh boy does it deliver. A story of four friends, and the harmony, and dissonance between various intersectional identities, as well as friendship, love, identity, and the corrupting influence of fear. Dawson builds a compelling world of witches and a stealth government department Her Majesty’s Royal Coven as background to what is a very universal desire: who am I and what is my place in the world? Each character is deftly spun, their desires and fears palpable. Dawson deals with some heavy issues, transphobia, terfs, racism, privilege, and I gotta admit it made my heart heavy, but this is, on the whole, a hopeful book (if full of tension!) with characters I want to spend more time with. I cannot wait to read the next instalment.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Andrews

    Won this beauty in the @harpervoyager_uk @harperfiction newsletter bundle and had high expectations, after that ending I’m not sure if I want to hug the book or throw it. 🧙‍♀️ A secret coven of witches, a transgender doomsday bringer (allegedly) and a bucket load of childhood trauma makes for an easy gripping read. I would debate how this is adult rated to a certain extent but who am I to judge at 30 years old! Very much looking forward to a certain book boxes special edition… 🧙‍♀️

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kris Tyler

    Not my typical genre, but I really enjoyed it. It started off slowly, but it picked up momentum quickly. The premise of the story kept me reading. I'm looking forward to #2. Not my typical genre, but I really enjoyed it. It started off slowly, but it picked up momentum quickly. The premise of the story kept me reading. I'm looking forward to #2.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Literally every single thing about this book had me. I don't want to give an spoilers away, but I am upset with how long I must wait for book 2. Juno Dawson, you're a gem! I see what you did there with Miss Vance. I see it, I appreciate it. Literally every single thing about this book had me. I don't want to give an spoilers away, but I am upset with how long I must wait for book 2. Juno Dawson, you're a gem! I see what you did there with Miss Vance. I see it, I appreciate it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Gosh, did I love this book. Juno Dawson's conjures a beautifully-realized and subtly-detailed world, a world that looks a lot like ours, but with magic bubbling under the surface. This riveting story depicts a world in which witches live side by side with mundanes, subtly protecting them from demonic forces and fascistic magic wielders. It also depicts witches at war over a big question with dire consequences: who gets to be a witch? The members of Her Majesty's Royal Coven- and some new, more i Gosh, did I love this book. Juno Dawson's conjures a beautifully-realized and subtly-detailed world, a world that looks a lot like ours, but with magic bubbling under the surface. This riveting story depicts a world in which witches live side by side with mundanes, subtly protecting them from demonic forces and fascistic magic wielders. It also depicts witches at war over a big question with dire consequences: who gets to be a witch? The members of Her Majesty's Royal Coven- and some new, more inclusive covens that have sprung up since its inception- fight not just for the fate of the world in a cosmic conflict, but for a person's right to determine and assert their own identity. Thrilling magic collides with thoughtful interrogations of gender, belonging, and selfhood. I loved this book, and I think you will too.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    Whoops, had a bit of an ARC mix-up and this one fell through the cracks. Looking forward to reading this one very soon! The concept is killer. Thank you to Penguin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Books.and.Salt

    Message is great but the storytelling is so cliche and the characters have no depth - I still couldn't tell most of the main women apart at the end. Full review to come. Message is great but the storytelling is so cliche and the characters have no depth - I still couldn't tell most of the main women apart at the end. Full review to come.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Lee

    Thank you so much to Harper Collins for sending me this proof. UK Release - 27/7/2022. The first book in what is set to be a very exciting series! In 'Her Majesty's Royal Coven' we meet a group of witches who grew up as childhood friends. As a dreaded prophecy seems to be coming true their friendship & powers will be tested to the limits. Spoiler Free review. Wow. What a book. I'm a sucker for a witch book anyway so as soon as this was announced it sounded right up my street. I throughly loved it Thank you so much to Harper Collins for sending me this proof. UK Release - 27/7/2022. The first book in what is set to be a very exciting series! In 'Her Majesty's Royal Coven' we meet a group of witches who grew up as childhood friends. As a dreaded prophecy seems to be coming true their friendship & powers will be tested to the limits. Spoiler Free review. Wow. What a book. I'm a sucker for a witch book anyway so as soon as this was announced it sounded right up my street. I throughly loved it. The characters are all (well mostly all, if you know you know) extremely loveable and we get very attached to them very quickly. I loved the magical system in this and the fractions of the different covens. Juno brilliantly weaves real day, real life issues into a world that isn't that different from our own. I love a book where each character has there own storyline that eventually all comes together. Niamh Kelly is a brilliant main character, the story is largely set through her eyes and her struggles. Leonie & Chinara's relationship was so lovely and felt extremely real. Hopefully in the rest of the series we get a POV from Theo? I also can't tell you how chuffed I am that this book is largely set in the North of England. The base for HMRC is in Manchester which was just an incredible added detail, also the shopping centre I work at is mentioned which made me insanely happy!!! I'm honestly so excited to see where Juno takes this series and these brilliant characters. Perfect For/For Fans of... The Once and Future Witches

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality Most prophecies are self-fulfilling. Oedipus’ father made that whole story happen by trying his damndest to keep that whole story from happening. And don’t get me started on Harry Potter and Voldemort and bringing that whole prophecy into being by trying to cut it off at the knees when Harry was a toddler. Or maybe do get me started on that. Because I’ll be getting back to it later. Because while the blurb for this book compares it to A Discovery of Witches a Originally published at Reading Reality Most prophecies are self-fulfilling. Oedipus’ father made that whole story happen by trying his damndest to keep that whole story from happening. And don’t get me started on Harry Potter and Voldemort and bringing that whole prophecy into being by trying to cut it off at the knees when Harry was a toddler. Or maybe do get me started on that. Because I’ll be getting back to it later. Because while the blurb for this book compares it to A Discovery of Witches and The Craft, Harry Potter is really a LOT closer to the mark. In the Potterverse, magic is real and it works and there’s an entire hidden society devoted to training new magic users and keeping the secret that there is power and influence to be had by literally waving a magic wand. The girls in Her Majesty’s Royal Coven are inheritors of a long and grand tradition of using magic on behalf of the Crown of England in order to defend the realm from threats both foreign and domestic that use magic to make and be those threats. They are, quite literally, the few and the proud, and the night before they make their official witch’s oaths and become part of HMRC, they are sure they will be friends forever. That’s one prophecy that seldom works out, and so it proves when the story picks up 25 years later. Now they are all adults, and all survivors of a great magical war that scarred their bodies and their futures, freezing them into the places and positions they now hold – sometimes by their fingernails. Helena, the leader of the girls they were and the leader of the hidebound covert government department that HMRC has been for generations, is facing the impending doom of the organization she heads. Or so she believes. The witches who watch the future, the seeresses who prophesy on behalf of HMRC and of Britain, are all seeing the same dark future. That the end of their world is going to be brought about by a young warlock of immense power that the prophecies call “The Sullied Child”. He will be their downfall, and he has been found. The prophecies are right. And they’re wrong. But mostly, they are completely, totally and utterly self-fulfilling to the nth degree and the entirely bitter end. Escape Rating B-: There are so many things going on in this story, and so many of them are good. But there’s something rotten at its heart that I can’t get past, although I suspect that other readers will have less of a problem with it. This is a story about feminism and female friendship. It’s also a story about how the ties that bind in childhood can strangle in adulthood. The four women who are at the center of this story have all gone their different ways. Helena has taken the path of power and leadership that her considerable privilege has led her to believe is her right as well as her duty. But the noblesse oblige that underlies that privilege has no room for any who would choose a different path – as all of her former friends have done. Helena’s HMRC has no place for intersectionality, so anyone not white, not British, not wealthy and not privileged, in other words anyone not like Helena herself, is a threat to her power. Leonie is black, Elle has retreated into a mundane life, and Niamh has no desire to be under anyone’s thumb – and certainly not under Helena’s. They have all been, in their various ways, outcast from the HMRC. When Niamh takes that so-called “Sullied Child” under her wing, she learns that the young warlock who is such a threat to the HMRC is actually a transgirl who wants nothing more than to be the witch she was meant to be and not the warlock that Helena continues to see as the ultimate threat. Niamh, Elle and Leonie want to do what is right rather than what is easy. Helena wants to preserve the HMRC’s traditions and believes that those ends justify any means she might employ – no matter how heinous. Helena is certain that she is working for the “Greater Good” without ever taking a hard look at who it might be good for. And prophecies are self-fulfilling. But what struck me as I read Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was just how much it mirrored Harry Potter considered in context of that author’s heinous beliefs about transwomen. She used Hermione Granger as an avatar for herself in the series, to the point where she had Hermione marry Ron at the end because the author was working out issues in a romantic relationship of her own rather than taking that part of the story in the direction it had been heading from the beginning. (My 2 cents and I’ll get down off this soapbox now). To me, Helena read like Hermione as her own author; smart, a bit stuck-up, worshipful of authority while determined to join it, and single-minded in pursuit of a goal. Also someone who seems to be doing her level best to destroy her own legacy because she can’t deal with the concept that other perspectives are as valid as her own and especially that transwomen are women. Full stop. For this reader, the obviousness of the woman behind the curtain, Helena as Hermione as her author, is the interpretation that remained fixed in my head through my entire reading and drenches my feelings about the book. I think it would have better served the story if the callback to Harry Potter’s author hadn’t been quite so obvious or so pointed. Your reading mileage, even if by broomstick, may definitely vary.

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