VIII by HM Castor

Posted On 8 September 2012

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 12 responses

Just finished reading VIII by HM Castor and will start by saying I loved this book.  It’s a different take on Henry showing us a glimpse into his early years and giving us an alternative view where young Hal is tormented by ghosts and demons.  Don’t be put off by thinking this is some sort of parallel paranormal universe – it isn’t.  It just shows us a different aspect to Henry that we’ve never looked at before not to mention this was a very superstitious era so to a certain extent I think you can get away with writing a bit of ghostliness into the story.

This is a really good historical read.  Clearly the author knows this period well and has researched it extensively.  That’s not to say that the book is overloaded with rich detail about clothes and food, etc, just enough I felt.  The story and writing flow easily and the author has a compelling way with words.

The story is told by Hal and it’s great being inside his head and knowing what he’s thinking.  We start with a young Hal being taken under cover of night to the safety of the Tower with his mother, due to the threat of assassination.  The Tower is dark and foreboding and to Hal’s young eyes appears to carry things in the shadows and eyes that watch him.  I loved this part of the story.  The book was practically unputdownable at this point with hair raising moments combined with true historical fact.  We get a little bit of insight into Henry’s relationship with his mother and father – both completely different affairs.  His father is cruel and distant.  Henry is not the important son after all and not destined for greatness – at least not in anyone else’s eyes.  His mother’s approach is more loving and kind – although this approach is scorned by her husband who thinks she mollycoddles young Hal.  He has a precarious position – he’s desperate to please but at the same time, as his father succinctly warns him, he needs to stay out of the limelight.  After all it’s not unknown for one brother to kill another – either in pursuit of a crown or in order to keep it!

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t personally have any.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was thoughtful, well written, well thought out, creepy and a bit horrible – that is in terms of watching this young boisterous boy turn into something of an ogre.  The style of writing is fairly modern and I suppose some people may object to that although I wouldn’t, I also think that if you’re looking for a story that goes into great depth about Henry’s wives and their untimely ends you may also be disappointed because the latter half of Henry’s life is moved through fairly swiftly.  We probably only have a couple of paragraphs about Anne of Cleves or Kitty Howard for example.  But, again, I had no problem with this.  I’ve read plenty of historical novels that already focus strongly on those elements and this was a lovely and refreshing change that primarily looks at the early years before the tyranny.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book.  I really enjoyed it and it gave me the opportunity to have another read about a period in history that I find fascinating, intriguing and horrifying.  Henry is just such an interesting character.  You can’t help but want to know what drove him and this gives us a different perspective.  I could pick up another novel like this right away.  In fact I understand the author is now moving on to Mary and Elizabeth and frankly I can’t wait to get my hands on that!

I’m submitting this for one of my R.I.P. reads, check out Stainless Steel Droppings autumn event details here and come and join in.




12 Responses to “VIII by HM Castor”

  1. nrlymrtl

    I keep going back to this section in history, reading a book set in this time at least once a year. I am tempted to pick this one up because it portrays the spiritual/superstitious side of the times, which were an integral part of how most people conducted their lives. Thanks for the review.

    • lynnsbooks

      This is a great book. It has a simple eloquence to it that I found really easy to read and it’s interesting to read about the earlier years of Henry. I find reading historical novels a much easier way to learn about certain periods of history – I know that probably sounds odd but these novels are so strongly based on well researched fact. I really admire these authors for coming up with a story to spin around it. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one – which is eluded to at the end.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Grace

    Oooh, this one sounds neat! I love books that can cross over and encompass multiple genres; historical fiction with ghosts and Henry VIII seems like it would be a great combo.

    • lynnsbooks

      It was really good. I liked the author’s style and the fact that we were in Henry’s head! There are such a lot of books from this period and this was a different take so quite refreshing.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Grace

    So this is completely unrelated to your post, but I’m pretty sure your Twitter got hacked, because it’s sending me direct messages with suspicious links asking me what I’m doing in some sort of misspelled video. You may wanna change your password and whatnot.

    • lynnsbooks

      Hi Grace
      I’ve sent out a tweet to tell everyone not to open any attachment from my account. It’s not me. I’ve had the same thing from someone I know. Apparently it’s java script and it looks like it spams everyone on your account. I’m sorry, I imagine it will now do the same thing with your account. It’s going all over the place!
      I don’t believe it’s damaging anything but it’s annoying and I’ve had about three different ones – saying ‘what you doing in this video?’
      Lynn 😦

      • Grace

        I didn’t open the attachment; I have my phone/email both set to tell me when I get a direct message and what it says, and since you’ve never seen me in real life, I was approximately 99.99% certain that you didn’t have a video of me, lol. Let me know though if you see it coming from my account. The same thing happened to someone that I know a few weeks ago too. It’s just an occupational hazard of using technology.

      • lynnsbooks

        I’ve had about 50 DMs via twitter! This thing must be pinging about all over the show. It’s a bit weird because I never opened the attachment either. Looked a bit dodgy. Maybe the fact that I went into my DMs was enough! Anyway, hopefully it will calm down soon.
        Lynn 😀

  4. Carl V.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. Such an interesting period of history, one filled with, among other things, true horrors. Sounds like a perfect R.I.P. read.

    • lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it – not sure whether it’s the most ideal for the RIP – although there were some creepy moments which is why I added it in. Can’t wait for this author’s next one which is about a young Elizabeth.
      Lynn 😀

  5. TBM

    Um, Henry VIII–I’m completely sold!!!!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I really liked this one and I’m waiting for the next which I believe is about Elizabeth. I’d like to read from the perspective of a young Elizabeth.
      Lynn 😀

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