Thorns in a Realm of Roses: The Henry Queens by Thomas Crockett
This book was an ARC from John Hunt Publishing Ltd through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
Born and raised in New York, Thomas Crockett spent thirty years as a theatre director and writing teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. On retirement Thomas turned his attention to his writing. He is an avid traveler, and enjoys a love of reading and researching Italian and English history, about which much of his writing is focused.
England, 1541. King Henry receives an anonymous letter suggesting that his fifth wife, the young Katherine Howard, whom he had called a rose without a thorn, may have led an unchaste life before they married. In the rose gardens of Hampton Court Palace, Henry feels the illusion of youth and virility slip away; he faces an uncertain future. Must he dispatch yet another wife? Old, overweight and increasingly infirm, could he find love and marry again to further secure the Tudor line? Written with literary invention, Thorns in a Realm of Roses spans the final years in Henry’s reign. Peeling back the layers of life at Court, it examines the hearts and minds of Henry, his often misbegotten queens, neglected daughter Mary and his many loyal, though wary, advisors as they all struggle to survive in a world embroiled in political and religious upheaval ruled by a petulant King.
I was very excited to receive this book as my first book from NetGalley. I was also really happy to have been granted this book as I love historical fiction and the Tudor period is one of my favourites in history.
Sadly though I was severely disappointed. To be honest the second chapter almost made me give up. The dialogues in this book are exhausting, they are long winded and pointless waffle. Also you struggle at times to follow who is talking as it is all very confusing. I only pushed on because I wanted to give the book a chance because it was my first NetGalley read and because I enjoy anything to do with Henry VIII.
The other issue I had with this book was how it flitted around from one point in time to another and gave no real clue about how much time had passed. It made it very hard to follow and disrupted the flow of reading for me.
The other element which I found extremely annoying was the historical inaccuracy as seen below:-
“Look what happened to Henry Bolingbroke of Lancaster when he murdered Richard II in 1399 and became Henry V. His reign and life ended quickly. His son Henry VI fared worse. He lost what his father gained, that being France, and soon after lost his throne, dying insane.”
Henry Bolingbroke was made Henry IV not V so his son was Henry V. This surely should have been checked and researched by the author. For a historical fiction novel this is a glaring error in the text that should have been picked up by somebody.
An element that I did enjoy was when Henry met with his children and interacted with them. I also enjoyed how his relationship with Katherine Parr was portrayed. Henry VIII in his final years is not a pretty picture, spoilt child comes to mind and Crockett got that right in this book. If his wives did not bow to his every demand they ended up removed from his side and in two cases from life itself.
All in all I did not really enjoy this book, I found it hard to follow and in places poorly written. I also sadly could not forgive the historical inaccuracies within the book. I have given this book 2 out of 5 Dragons and the only reason it did not get 1 was because I managed to finish it but in all honesty it was a hard slog.
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