cover image Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All

M.T. Anderson et al. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1620-2

Seven young adult authors provide consistent, captivating accounts of the six marriages of Henry VIII of England, told from the perspectives of his wives and the king himself. Henry’s entries (written by Anderson) reflect a lust for life and power, as well as his growing disillusionment and isolation. Already in his 40s when courting his second queen, the king is in physical decline and is becoming desperate for a male heir, resulting in a series of ill-fated marriages. Through a mix of dialogue, narrative, and flashback, the authors create a distinctive voice and personality for each queen while recounting the events leading up to her demise. By concentrating religious as well as political authority in his own hands, Henry rendered each of his queens a pawn. Only Jane Seymour (depicted here by Lisa Ann Sandell), his third wife who died soon after giving birth, escaped manipulation. A final page presents an alternative: Elizabeth I, Henry’s daughter by Anne Boleyn, as an Amazon. Some authors capture the period more successfully than others, but most readers will find the subject matter—including bedroom scenes—too engrossing to mind. Back matter includes a helpful chronology and a section on “Who’s Who in the Court.” Ages 12–up. (May)