Publication: March 14th 2017 by Candlewick
Source: I received an ARC copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Elizabeth Camperdowne has always known her place in the world. As the only daughter of the oldest noble family in Derbyshire, she is destined to marry a man who will bring wealth and title back to her family after her uncle’s treason to the king. After a botched engagement with a local earl’s son, Elizabeth is sent to stay with a relative who runs a school that trains up girls to serve the English court. There Elizabeth meets a cousin she never knew she had, vivacious and flirtatious Katherine Howard. When it comes time for the English court’s need of new maids of honor for the new Queen Anne of Cleves, Katherine and Elizabeth get the chance they’ve been waiting for. While Katherine soon sets her sights on winning the heart of King Henry VIII, Elizabeth endeavors to fulfill her family’s wishes, while constantly being drawn to the king’s page Ned Barsby. What seemed such a simple yet glamorous life in the English court, soon turns dangerous and chaotic as Anne of Cleves loses favor with the king and Elizabeth is drawn into court intrigue more than she ever wanted when her cousin Katherine becomes the new queen. And history knows how that turned out.
This was a confusing read to say the least. When I saw a young adult novel featuring Henry VIII’s court, I was extremely excited. I’m not sure where my fascination of the Tudor time period comes from, but I have been known to watch documentaries on Henry VIII. For fun. So of course when I saw this on the new releases list that I check and found it on NetGalley, I had to request it.
The characters were okay but I didn’t find any of them to be particularly engaging, especially the main character of Elizabeth. She was kind of bland for a main character and didn’t really do anything exciting to liven up her life in the book. Katherine was an interesting character, albeit frustrating at times, and she was certainly known for being lively in real life as well. I did really enjoy the glimpses that we got of King Henry and they definitely seemed to ring true with what is known about his personality.
I think the main issue of this book for me was the plot. Or maybe I should say the lack thereof. It never seemed like the book had any direction and I found myself struggling to figure out what the book was supposed to be about. I initially thought that Elizabeth was eventually going to end up with the earl’s son from the beginning of the book because of the wording used during her botched engagement. Then I thought we were going to follow Elizabeth to where Anne of Cleves spent her life as the king’s sister. It wasn’t until the end of the book and I read the author’s note that I realized this book was supposed to be about Katherine Howard and her possible motives of her betrayal of King Henry. I admit that when Katherine’s confession to Elizabeth was first told, I found myself completely surprised and intrigued with the possibility of what she said. But the plot lacked so much direction that I really feel the theme was done an injustice. The writing style was also nearly middle grade in its simplicity which didn’t do this book any favors either.
Overall I think because this book portrayed one of my favorite periods of history to read and learn about, I enjoyed it more than the average reader. With the writing style being simplistic and the chapters short, it’s definitely a quick read. If you are as intrigued as I am about this time period, this may be worth the read for you. However if you’re looking for something full of intrigue and excitement, this isn’t the book for you.
What do YOU think? Would you have ever wanted to be involved in court life when it was still a possibility? Would you have set your sights on King Henry VIII? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.