Flap Copy from ARC:
"Fifteen-year old Catherine Howard's youth beauty, and noble birth are enough to make her the envy of every woman in Tudor England...and now she has caught the eye of the king.
But life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. Catherine finds herself quickly transformed from a carefree teenager with dreams of romance and riches to queen of England. Even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life- and her heart- threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Catherine begins to fear that their agendas will make her a sacrifice on the altar of family ambition, delivering the young queen to the same fate as her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn."
As someone whose love of history (especially the Tudors) dates back to her early teens, I was really looking forward to reading this book aimed at readers aged 14 and up. I did find the book to be an engaging treatment of the story of Catherine Howard's marriage, especially as she is so often overlooked in favor of her more flamboyant predecessor. The writing was crisp and the pacing of the book was excellent.
I also think Libby did a wonderful job capturing the voice of her 15 year-old protagonist, though I quibble a little with Catherine's naivete in parts. I cannot help but believe that even the most sheltered 15 year-old would have been forced into a greater awareness of political realities in such a tumultuous time. Regardless, Libby made Catherine live, and revealed the pathos of her situation. Even knowing as I did how this story would end, I found myself wishing she would in fact receive a reprieve from her Henry.
Given the complexity of the cast of characters involved in this story, I would like to see a chart or list to help readers less familiar with the subject matter keep track of everyone. I read an ARC, so this oversight may in fact have been rectified during final printing. Also, some readers may be uncomfortable with the sexual component of the story (though it is minor and essential to the story). All in all, a highly recommended read for high schoolers interested in historical fiction.