by Katherine Longshore
My first impression of this book was that I would finally get to see a different take on who Catherine Howard was. I understand that it is fiction, but she just happens to be the only one of Henry VIII's wives that I have not been able to relate to. In fact, I blame Hollywood for this modern day "hang up," that I feel toward her.
This book gently lured me in, and I found it difficult to put down. I read the whole of it in just three days. I didn't realize until half way through it that the book was written for a young adult audience. This only came to my realization when I kept waiting for alluring romance, and intense courtly love. I had to laugh at myself, waiting for something that never came. ;)
But even without detailed, adult liaisons, the characters were interesting enough to keep me moving forward. Especially the main character Katherine Tylney. In the story she was Catherine Howard's most loyal friend, and she went from being a naive young girl to a woman with a backbone. I was actually quite proud of her nearing the end of the story. I won't go into any detail because I wouldn't want to give it away. But I liked the way she stopped biting her tongue, and eventually just said what was on her mind whether anyone liked it or not. Some scenes with her were intense, and brought out some of my emotions.
As for Catherine Howard, in the beginning I sort of liked her. I thought she was fun and brave. Toward the end, I just thought she was a nutcase. Unfortunately the book didn't change my opinion of her like I thought it might. She still comes across as being self serving and very childish to me, for the time in which she lived.
The plot was engaging, but it unfolded a bit slowly for my taste. I think that there could have been a few more obstacles in the beginning and middle of the book. I think a few things were rushed, particularly relationships between some of the characters, but then again, it is a young adult book.
The plot picked up and came together nicely in the end, and I felt somewhat satisfied with it. I do however wish that the ending had been delayed a little and more of a happily ever after added in. But maybe that is just my taste.
One of the things that stands out for me is Henry VIII himself. I really love the way his character was portrayed. He was loving and kind in this book, and not the tyrant that he is usually made out to be.That makes me quite happy. I actually found myself feeling sorry for him in this book, and not the executed queen.