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VIII by H. M. Castor


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This is the story of Henry VIII from handsome young prince to cruel king. How did this talented skillful warrior turn into a villainous monster? This is historical fiction from a different angle with the tension of a psychological thriller and the eeriness of a ghost story, in a beautiful lavishly produced hardback format.


VIII by H. M. Castor

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.


This biographical and psychological portrayal of one of England's most notorious rulers is a meaty read for Tudor history fans and general audiences alike. Prince Hal is repeatedly reminded, especially by his father, that nothing grand is expected of him, because he is the spare son. This spurs him into believing that he is destined for greatness, believing in a prophecy that he is fated to rule England. When his brother, Arthur, suddenly dies, Hal clashes even more with his father; when he informs his father that he believes in compassionate and visible signs of leadership, he is mocked by the monarch. Upon his succession, Hal's obsession with regaining France and having an abundance of sons causes him to negate marriage after marriage, either through execution or dissolution. Even though Henry VIII's actions are depressingly familiar, Castor presents each event with surprisingly freshness. The author artfully depicts the descent of Hal's childhood idealism and gentle character into the better-known cruel and despotic nature of Henry VIII. Too often, historical fiction is overwrought with florid description and exposition, but Castor consistently and evenly balances description, dialogue, and action. Necessary information about England's pre-Tudor past is easily incorporated into the narrative. Characters, even secondary ones, are fully realized. A faithful depiction of dialogue is sacrificed for more modern speech, but it is never distracting or awkwardly out of place. This is a satisfying and engrossing portrayal of an incredible personality. -- Jennifer Schultz * Fauquier County Public Library * 'an impressive psychological thriller' * Children's Buyers Guide * 'This is a new look at a much studied subject, and because it is written as a historical, psychological thriller it will bring Henry VIII to life for another generation
Clare Poole

* The Bookseller * In her original and convincing account of Henry as a child, HMC makes an excellent fist of presenting a sensitive and intelligent boy who, as the spare not the heir, tries in vain to win his father Henry VII's interest and approval. This novel of turbulent times bristles with atmosphere and tension.

This well-plotted atmospheric novel with its original psychological perspective from HMC (shades of JKRowling) we can no doubt expect more historical novels as stunning and engrossing as this one . * Books for Keeps * 'A well paced story which certainly holds the reader and shows what a horrific and brutal place was the Tudor court' * Carousel * 'compelling and completely absorbing ... a gripping often spookily scary insight into Henry VIII for teenage readers' * TbK mag * 'this is historical fiction at its best but played out from a different angle ... with a contemporary and original writing style. It's also beautifully and lavishly produced in a hardback format' * Lovereading4kids * 'Accessible, enjoyable and full of fascinating details, VIII is a page turner that encourages readers to eschew pre-conceptions and to look at this Tudor icon in a fresh light
Linda Buckley

-Archer * Teenage Fiction pick ,The Guardian * 'I wish VIII by H M Castor had been published years ago ...the book deals with the psychology of a neglected adolescent who suddenly finds himself venerated and apparently chosen by God
Merle Nygate

* Guardian readers Books of the Year, The Guardian * 'try not to miss H M Castor's VIII - told as if from the lips of Britain's much married monarch, history comes alive from first page to last
Nicholas Tucker

* The Independent * 'This is a great novel, both for Tudor fans who want to try something different, and for younger readers as it nicely introduces historical fact into this already exciting story. Definitely one to try!' * New Books * 'the gripping first-person narration paints a vivid picture of a young man haunted by strange visions, struggling to be loved, and convinced that his fate is to be a great ruler.' * The White Ravens * 'Unusual, enjoyable and totally fascinating, VIII, is an entertaining look at a great man's life as he might have seen it himself.' * South China Post * 'thought provoking, fast paced, gripping and fascinating.' * The SL * 'Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to people who like Tudor history and historical fiction readers. I think this book could be for Year 9s because they might understand more of the sub-plots.
Little M, We Sat Down Blog

'a brilliant portrayal of a historical figure which really brings out the man behind the king.'

* YA Yeah Yeah * just read it; it is awesome. It can easily be read in one sitting and will inspire a desire for more volumes. VIII is an ideal read-alike for The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin. It is filled with fighting, scheming, and intrigue. Understanding family heritage and successions will be an enjoyable challenge for readers. Only follow-up searches for more British history will satisfy curious readers * VOYA *

About the Author

H. M. Castor

H. M. Castor has been obsessed with the Tudors since primary school. She studied
Tudor History at Cambridge University, and despite spending time after that doing
a variety of jobs – including teaching English in Prague and working as a Benesh
Movement Notator for the Royal Ballet – the Tudors have never lost their hold on
her. In particular she has been fascinated by the story of Henry VIII.

“I’ve read a great deal about his life,” she says, “but still a huge question has remained: just how does this extraordinary boy become one of the most villainous kings in British
history? He is vastly talented, has astonishing warrior skills, and is said to be a model of virtue. So what turns him into a monster? In writing VIII I’ve set out to answer that question.”

H. M. Castor lives in Bristol with her husband and two daughters.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st October 2011


H. M. Castor

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Templar Publishing


400 pages


NewGen - YA Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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