Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE BOLEYN KING by Laura Anderson

Publisher:  Ballantine
Date published:   May 14, 2013
Genre:   Young Adult, Alternative History
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


In another time, another place, Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn did not die because she gave birth to a son. A healthy son named Henry William—known as William.  On the day of his birth another child, Minuette, was born.  An orphan, Minuette was raised as a royal ward of Anne who, even in this reality, gave birth to Elizabeth.  Together, William, Elizabeth, Minuette and their friend, Dominic, thrived in a different Tudor England.  Different in some ways, but in others, history was the same as ours and myriad other intrigues abounded.  While the foursome learn statecraft at the hand of Lord Rochford, France, Spain and Catholic Englishmen plot.  In the midst of the larger drama of the world a young lady in waiting, Alyce de Clare, a pregnant Alyce de Clare, plunges to her death. 

As William’s 18th birthday, and therefore his majority approaches, the privy council prods more and more for him to choose a bride. But William has more on his mind than a bride.  With France and England about to engage in an alliance and a secret document that could bring down his reign, he sends the only people he can trust to the four corners of his kingdom and beyond.  Dominic leaves for France and Minuette seeks out Alyce’s killer and the secret document at home while Elizabeth holds Williams counsel. Amidst the intrigues of the times, William realizes where his heart lies and giving his heart to that woman could ultimately cost him his kingdom. 

I went back and forth with Laura Andersen’s THE BOLEYN KING between liking it and wanting to toss it aside. There were parts that were intriguing and drew me in.  Scenes with heightened emotion and solid mystery drew me in as did the premise of an alternative history where Anne Boleyn gave birth to a healthy son and because of that, Henry VIII remained true to her and she did not die.  And then there were scenes that just rambled and lost me.  At times I wondered if perhaps the book was written by two authors—one who wanted to write a young adult fantasy and another who wanted to weave of story with great mystery and intrigue.  In the end I could not reconcile the chick-litish teens with the intelligent and passionate adults they sometimes seemed to be.

The mystery was a good one and the killer completely caught me off guard.  How the villain was discovered was well done—but getting there are times was laborious and disjointed.  I believe if the author had either stuck with a young adult or gone for a solid alternate history with the characters behaving as the adults they would have been at the time the writing would have been tighter and the story much better.

The author engaged in a practice that seems to be increasing popularity with some writers but ultimately annoys readers—the story does not end at the last page, but leaves threads dangling so if you want to find out what happened you have to read (and therefore buy or borrow) the next book.  Since I already have book 2, THE BOLEYN DECEIT, I will read it if only to find out, hopefully who Minuette ultimately chooses to marry. 

THE BOLEYN KING has a great premise and if you can suspend your belief it is a story you will enjoy.  Treat it as a young adult romance with a bit of mystery thrown in without expectations of high drama and intrigue and you can’t miss.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement this book.

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