Book review - Six Tudor Queens - Anne Boleyn the Kings Obsession, Alison Weir
Prince Henry has been raised with the inherited expectation that he will be one day be King and also, that he will never be denied. Anne Boleyn has little affection for the young King, though she absolutely recognizes and respects his singular determination to succeed.
The charm with having also read the first "Queen" book in this series (about Katharine of Aragon) is that the timelines do cross over. Each Queen has knowledge of the next so we will be receiving their own individual viewpoints in each subsequent book; the events that lead to their downfalls are relayed via their own interactions and also via those of their supporters. It is fascinating to see what each Queen might have thought of the other, and also of the various affairs that King Henry VIII carried on with whilst married to each of them.
Of course there seems to be a cast of thousands, each with their own alliances and family entanglements so the reader will need to keep sharp on this throughout the various court intrigues. Henry VIII's flailing attempts to satisfy his own desires and ambitions are quite astonishing and the cruelty shown to almost all women of this time still sits heavy, hundreds of years later.
Author Alison Weir has delivered an accessible piece of historical fiction that both educates and entertains. This brutal time in English history relates as fresh and new as if it all had just occurred and every character is sketched in such a way that we are quick to feel sympathy or disgust. You don't need to be full bottle on the Tudors to enjoy this book as the historical facts are all story interwoven and given weight by the knowledge that real historical figures were involved. Weir's writing style is relatively economical and you do get the sense this is because of the huge amount of content needed to be inserted into the narrative whilst not causing the reader's eyes to glaze over from the factual overload.
You might be a English history buff, a fan of regency drama fiction or just into the chaotic stories of Henry VIII and his doomed queens. SIX TUDOR QUEENS; ANNE BOLEYN, A KINGS OBSESSION will comfortably satisfy all of these reader requirements and give you a fresh take on what we thought was a well known period of English royal history.
BOOK REVIEW: THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill
Opening into an evolving new world where people are suffering from a highly contagious illness that causes them to burn from within when stressed, the pace is fast and we’re desperate for details. Enter cool headed school nurse Harper Grayson who is one of those remarkable people who manages to keep it all together in times of crisis.
Hill writes with confidence but there are assumptions made on his readers; a bit more clarification between the actuals and the fantastic would have been appreciated; in many of the action scenes of John (for example) we are not sure whether some of his fiery weapons are born from himself ie in the supernatural realm of his new capabilities, or if they are something more mechanical that he has created as a ruse.
Let’s talk size. The epic novels generally are also doorstoppers; we get that they require the commitment. What THE FIREMAN actually needed was a savage edit. We are quite caught up in the how the whole world is going down but if we’re investing in such a weighty novel, we need to see the disintegration of society on a grander scale. If the novel had to be confined to one town, perhaps it would have served the novel better to have a whole town story with multiple perspectives. This book has a lot of meandering filler which wasn’t required. It got at times a little insular and suffocating. With some tightening up, we may just have had the reader powering through, gratifyingly sure that there is a terrific battle or insight just around the corner.
Let’s talk characters! When they are facing the end of the civilized world, we really want to care about the survivors. It is hard to find anyone to empathize or care too much about in this novel. Our heroine makes a stupendously idiotic decision right at the start which affects her safety and mobility for the rest of the book. She compounds this soon after with another clanger. Everyone in her new community is either creepy or intent on living in a bubble when common sense would dictate they move the heck along before the town’s self-appointed saviours tracks them down.
THE FIREMAN for sure has that post apocalyptic wonder (who will survive, how will they survive?) and does a good job of conveying the fear and confusion in one pocket of the world as it all goes to hell. It doesn't quite balance the divide between horror and science fiction but will be the one to read when you are wanting to leave the world behind and be an observer in another possible version of our own.
Review - The Silent Inheritance, Joy Dettman
The shadows have always been in pursuit of Sarah. Moving across the country in order to leave her troubles behind, Sarah creates a new and peaceful life for herself and her tween daughter Marni. It has been a battle for Sarah to keep ahead of her past (life has sometimes been unnervingly unfair to the single mother) but she has always taken in pride in having made a clean break from her convoluted family history. Until now.
THE SILENT INHERITANCE strides with purpose for the bulk of the novel as the field narrows and possibilities are discarded. There are a number of separate narratives running alongside each other. The characters are somewhat of a curious yet dispassionate bunch. As a result, readers subsequently may not invest too much in worrying about their fate. It is difficult to engage with their struggles, even as they discover and connect with each other. It also means that by the novel’s end there are quite a few threads that need tidying up.
Set in Melbourne THE SILENT INHERITANCE does a terrific job in encapsulating a crime within the suburbs. The rest of the busy and largely uncaring city continues on its merry way as relationships form and fracture, and families struggle to cope with the loss of their daughters. The killer hiding in the midst of all this has his own mission to fulfil, and it is the mechanics of him keeping it all together whilst being hunted that is oddly fascinating. This is not a read to be rushed, but considered carefully.