Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Blog Tour: VIII by H.M. Castor - Review, Exclusive Extract & Giveaway!

Product details:
Publisher: Templar Publishing.
Release date: October 1st 2011.
Hardcover, 336 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: YA
Source: Received from publisher for review.

VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family's violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination, but in VIII, Henry is presented fresh for a new generation. H M Castor does for Henry what Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell - VIII is Wolf Hall for the teen and crossover market. The contemporary, original writing style will have broad appeal and VIII brings the tension of a psychological thriller and the eeriness of a ghost story to historical fiction.

Combining the page-turning tension of a psychological thriller with the spine-chilling shivers of a ghost story, H.M Castor’s VIII is an accomplished work of historical fiction with that most fascinating of subjects Henry VIII at its core. If you’re thinking that this is just another retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives, then think again. Castor’s VIII is a unique take on the life of the man who is perhaps best remembered as a grotesque and tyrannical figure. But, as Castor reminds us, Henry, or Hal as he was also known, wasn’t always a man driven by a fierce desire to dominate and to behead. In this book we first meet Henry as a child, and as we follow him throughout life we see how tragic family circumstances as well as the inner workings of his haunted mind shaped him both as a leader and as a man.

With its engaging and accessible prose, VIII is a compelling, fast-paced read that will keep readers both young and old hooked from start to finish.  Throughout VIII Castor is mindful of her intended Young Adult audience and as such strikes a perfect balance in her writing.  While VIII is meticulously researched and well rounded in every way the story is never overwhelmed by political or religious detail at any time, focusing instead   on its vast cast of characters. With this focus on the characters and their importance to the changing personality of Henry I recommend a little background knowledge on The House of Tudor and the main players in how it came to be before reading this one.

One of the most interesting aspects of VIII is the focus on Henry as a child. While I’ve read lots of books both academic and fictional on Tudor history, most concentrate on Henry as a ruler or as a (not very good) husband. Here though, we meet Henry as a headstrong, but also thoughtful and considerate boy. Adored by his mother, Elizabeth of York, he adores her in return and shares her mutual dislike of his paternal Grandmother Margaret Beaufort, for whom the world battleaxe must have been invented.  The other main players in Henry’s life at this time are his father Henry VII and his older brother Arthur who is heir to the throne, while Henry is nothing more than a spare and is treated as such by the King. But, when Henry begins to have ghostly visions and then a prophecy foretells great things for him, he changes from a boy who is haunted by the tales of his mothers lost brothers in the tower into a determined young man who will be King and who is as ambitious and ruthless as his father and grandmother before him.

Of course, with a Kingdom comes a wife, or six in Henry’s case, and they are discussed here too along with Henry’s mounting fears and frustrations at the failure of his first two wives Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn to produce a living male heir who would be his successor as King. Ah, but we do get to witness the birth of a girl called Elizabeth, and we all know what happened next.

With major crossover appeal VIII by H.M Castor is a highly enjoyable and refreshing work of historical fiction that will be loved by readers young and old alike. Recommended.

Exclusive extract of VIII by H.M. Castor.

Click on 'View in Fullscreen' or download document for larger text.

Watch the great trailer for VIII below:

VIII by H.M. Castor - Book Trailer from Helen Boyle on Vimeo.

Thanks to those lovely people at Templar I have a beautiful hardback copy of VIII by H.M. Castor to give away!
To be in with a chance to win, just fill in the form below.
Competition is open to: UK Only (Publishers request).
Competition Closes: Wednesday, October 5th 2011.



  1. Stellar giveaway! Thank so much for the chance to enter. I've spotted this on a few blogs and it sounds like it's right up my street! I'm a Tudor junkie!

    Nice review :)

  2. Great review – I'm really looking forward to reading VIII, it sounds absolutely fascinating.

  3. I'm a fan of The Tudors on HBO, I still have a couple seasons to catch up on though :) This book sounds like something I would enjoy! Great review :) Loved the trailer as well!

  4. I need to get this book. Hello? Everything that has to do with The Tudors is a must read for me. :)

  5. Wow, I'm loving the sound of this book! I really like that we get to follow Henry from childhood on to see how the pressures of being king change and affect him. Gorgeous review Leanna, I hadn't heard of this one before!

  6. Great review, Leanna! I love historical fiction and have always been fascinated by Henry VIII. I will definitely have to check this one out, especially since this sheds some light on his childhood.

  7. Sounds fantastic! I love this time period!

  8. Sounds fabulous! I've never read anything about Henry VIII's childhood. And the psychological thriller element adds even more to the intrigue. I wonder if this is coming out in the US too.

  9. Cool trailer! thanks for the heads up I hadn't seen this before.

  10. @Alison - Not sure about a US release, but you'll be able to get it on The Book Depository. :)

  11. You really know how to write a stellar first sentence! You totally sucked me in with that line. I love the way you write your reviews.

    This book sounds so interesting. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm adding it to my TBR now. Ghosts and historical fiction? OH YES PLEASE! I like how this one goes into Henry's childhood. I don't think I've read much about that at all, and usually what I have read about him has been from the perspective of one of the women in his life. I'm curious to see his side of the story.

  12. @Small - Thank you! x I pay special attention to first sentences - it's all too easy to start every review off in a similar way, so I like to mix it up. :)


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