Release: March 1, 2016
Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what's in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty--and completely unavailable--Grayson Chandler. Except that it's not quite what she imagined.Review:
For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there's the dead body she finds that just kind of...well, disappears. Oh, and there's the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls "Psychic Tourette's Syndrome"--spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.
The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson's attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson's interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it's starting to look suspicious...
Holding Court is different from a lot of the books I usually read, but that change of pace turned out to be a wonderful thing. It was just what I needed to break up all the Urban Fantasy I'm reviewing this month and I absolutely loved it.
Jules comes from a family of psychics. Her grandmother is a professional matchmaker who uses her ability to see auras to find her clients a perfect mate. Her mother, an antique store owner, can tell the age and authenticity of artifacts with a touch. But Jules doesn't find her gift of blurting out random nonsensical prophesies particularly useful. She feels like a freak around her classmates, especially the boy she's had a crush on for years.
But her new job at Tudor Times, a Henry VIII themed tourist attraction, brings her into close contact with Grayson Chandler. (The target YA audience may not realize that he's named for Courteney Cox's TV husbands, but it amuses me to no end.) The two bond over their love of The Princess Bride and he becomes her partner in crime after she finds a body in the castle. I loved their quote wars and the fact that he starts to call her Buttercup. And I was only a little bit annoyed by her low self esteem. It's hard to hold anything against Jules when she's so charming.
The mystery plot, with its secret passages and costumed pageantry, has a kind of Scooby Doo quality, but not in a bad way. I loved Held's descriptions of the elaborate costumes and decor. I loved the characters like King Henry, who's really an eccentric billionaire but rarely breaks character, and Jules's grandmother whose advice all comes in the form of Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. Surprisingly, most of it is still good advice.
Though it might be silly at times, this story was so much fun. It had me LOLing on more than one occasion. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a fast, fun book to break out of a reading rut.
Recommended for fans of: The Princess Bride, themed-dining, and Scooby Doo
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley