My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA contemporary/retelling
Pacing: Slower Pacing
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Published: January 29th, 2019
Mean Girls meets The Tudors in Hannah Capin’s The Dead Queens Club, a clever contemporary YA retelling of Henry VIII and his wives (or, in this case, his high school girlfriends). Told from the perspective of Annie Marck (“Cleves”), a 17-year-old aspiring journalist from Cleveland who meets Henry at summer camp, The Dead Queens Club is a fun, snarky read that provides great historical detail in an accessible way for teens while giving the infamous tale of Henry VIII its own unique spin. What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8.
Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice… – synopsis from Goodreads
I was so fraking excited about this book when I first learned about it. I am a HUGE Tudor enthusiast, like crazy. I’ve read biographies about them (a lot of Elizabeth I ones because I find her really badass) and watched the movies/TV shows, I love this drama infused bunch. So I was ecstatic when we received the ARC for The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin. And Holy Hole in a Doughnut! It was fantastic.
Imagine the Tudors meets Mean Girls with a touch of Gossip Girl and that is exactly what The Dead Queens Club is! Hannah Capin decided to bring this story to the 21st century and OH! MY! GOD! it works so well! Henry VIII was essentially a girl crazy teenager, why did I never see it before?!?!?! Nothing is forgotten in this book, the author hits all the little details, it’s so well done that I wanted to scream cause of how awesomely good it was. The setting is perfect. Who knew that bringing these iconic characters in a more modern era would match the story so well. All that plotting and gossiping is perfect for high school.
The plot is a tad slow but starts moving at a faster pace more towards the end. I really didn’t mind the pacing because it allowed me to discover the characters and watch every detail of this brilliant retelling unfold. The author even managed to get in his injury that left him with a bad leg and the way it’s done is clever.
Our main girl is Annie aka Cleves, nickname given by Golden Boy himself , since Annie is from Cleveland (get it? Anne of Cleves like as in wife number 4). She is this fun, sarcastic – quirky character with a Rolodex of pop culture references that I can only applaud. Cleves is a feminist, calling out slut-shaming and fighting to find the truth, even if she might not like what the truth is. She’s always been my favourite of all the wives and I’m so happy on how the author decided to portray her in The Dead Queens Club. It felt true to what I know and relate to Anne of Cleves. All the Queens resemble some aspects of their historical counterparts and this books is very much for them. Hannah Capin gives these women a voice.
Oh and Henry… what to say about Henry. Golden boy, human magnet, egotistical chauvinist – Hannah Capin really kept true to what I know and love about King Henry VIII. OK, yes he’s a prick but I can’t help but love him – though I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of his girlfriends. Not everyone gets out of a relationship with Henry and lives to tell the tale.
If you are like me and are a fan of The Tudors and every scheming person affiliated with them, chances are you will love this book. It kept me wanting more and I just didn’t want to put it down. Hats off to Hannah Capin who was able to make me love these characters even more than I already did. I can’t wait to see what she does next, I will definitely be checking out her next book ,which is supposed to be a Lady Macbeth retelling (Helleth Yeah!). Let me leave you with these words of wisdom: Ugh Jane Seymour!
Thank you Inkyard Press and Netgalley. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.