Lions in the Garden by Chelsea Luna

lions in the gardenLions in the Garden by Chelsea Luna (The Uprising #1)
Published March 1, 2016 by Kensington Books, 236 pp.
Copy provided by Kensington Books at NetGalley for review.

Prague, 1610

Ludmila Novakova–Mila–has barely set foot outside Prague Castle in her seventeen years. But with the choice between braving the bandits and wolves of Bohemia’s uneasy roads or being married off to a disgusting old baron, she’s taken what she can carry and fled.

Escape won’t be easy. Even Mila has heard the rumors of a rebellion coming against the court. The peasants are hungry. The king hasn’t been seen in months. Mila’s father, the High Chancellor, is well known and well hated.

But Mila can’t sit behind a stone wall and let fear force her into a life of silk gowns and certain misery. Her mother’s death has taught her that much. She has one ally: Marc, the son of the blacksmith. A commoner, a Protestant–and perhaps a traitor, too. But the farther she gets from the castle, the more lies she uncovers, unraveling everything she thought she knew. And the harder it is to tell friend from enemy–and wrong from right . . .

How goes it?

Look at that cover! So vibrant and gorgeous. This is a YA historical fiction, revolving around the Reformation, with some romance thrown in. Mila didn’t appeal to me at first – too sheltered, too naive – but she has a harsh dose of reality thrown in her face once she ventures out of the castle walls.

If you like history, you’ll love this book. Set in the beginning of the Reformation, this follows Mila, a noble who has been sheltered all her life, and her discovery that life is drastically different for the peasants outside the castle walls. Unrest has been brewing, and it will take very little for a revolution to spark. I won’t claim to be an expert on European history, but this will have you wanting to read more on it.

I didn’t know how much history there’d be in Lions in the Garden, but I was pleasantly surprised that the bits of history were interwoven quite neatly with Mila’s and Marc’s romance. Mila and Marc meet when Marc rescues her from an attempted robbery while Mila is attempting to run away, and she quickly learns that Marc isn’t just the son of a blacksmith – he’s also a member of the Protestant rebellion. At first Mila is appalled – rebellion? Because of what? But the more time she spends outside the castle walls – and with Marc – she realizes that the peasantry live drastically different lives. She has to do something, but what, and how? She has her own issues to contend with – a pending engagement, her muddled feelings for Marc, and she just can’t forget the trauma from her childhood.

I liked Mila as a heroine, maybe not as a romantic one, because these two fell for each other fast (I’m talking a week, tops, and they didn’t even spend majority of that week together, but I suppose rescue from a highway robbery bonds you), but she’s smart, and learns quickly. She starts out naive, but as the book goes on she starts to form her own beliefs, and views.

The romance here serves as a way of showcasing the social and political setting – they’re from two very different classes, and each of them are on different sides of the rebellion. Later, when Marc is captured and punished, it’s to highlight the abuses of power the nobility (and in the eyes of the peasantry, the Catholic Church) exercise over them.

The only thing I’d have to grumble about it in this book is that cliffhanger, and maybe the modern way of speaking the characters here use, especially Mila.



Lions in the Garden starts off slow, even mundane, but it quickly gets the ball rolling. 4 paper planes! Because I’m a history nut, and this had me Googling books about European history after I finished.

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