During the sixteenth century, Spain and her territories were ruled by Juana of Castile, the daughter of famous monarchs Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Reign of Madness is a work of historical fiction depicting how Juana came to be Queen, how she came to be known as Juana the Mad, and the intrigue and power plays that surrounded her life at Court.
It is particularly satisfying to learn about some facet of history about which I am unaware. I haven’t studied much about Spanish history and when I was offered this book for review, I thought it looked interesting. I was not disappointed. While the author does take some license with her interpretation of what might have caused Juana to be deemed as insane if she was in fact, competent, Lynn Cullen does so in a way that might make sense, and at the very least, does so in an exciting way.
One of the things that makes this novel so interesting is the political power plays that take place during Juana’s lifetime. Her mother was the principal ruler of Spain in a time when males traditionally dominated the roles of the heads of state. How Isabella managed to keep a strong hold on her power and her kingdom were lessons that Juana only learned (at least in this book) too late.
Thanks to Putnam for sending me an Advance Review Copy of Reign of Madness. I enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more books by Lynn Cullen in the future!
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011