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VIII by H. M. Castor

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Chosen by April 2012 Guest Editor, Charlie Higson:

"The 60s and early 70s, when I was growing up, was a golden age for children’s historical fiction, with the likes of Henry Treece, Geoffrey Trease, Rosemary Sutcliff and Mary Renault selling a huge number of books. I read a lot of this stuff, particularly anything set in the middle ages. Basically I would pounce on anything in which the hero had a sword. Most of these books are now sadly out of print. The need for these kind of sword and legging sagas has perhaps been filled by fantasy fiction. But, as is the way with these things, I'm sure there will come a time when kids’ historical fiction will return to the spotlight. I read H. M. Castor’s book when it came out, and I love the way it makes the characters and story (Henry VIII) relevant and immediate for modern readers. I have put it in here in the hope that it might be part of a revival!"

The Lovereading comment:

This is the story of Henry VIII from handsome young prince to cruel king. How did this talented skilful warrior turn into a villainous monster? This is historical fiction at its best but played out from a different angle with the tension of a psychological thriller and the eeriness of a ghost story with a contemporary and original writing style. It's also beautifully and lavishly produced in a hardback format.


VIII by H. M. Castor

Destined for greatness - tormented by demons. VIII (Eight) is the untold story of Henry VIII, a gripping examination of why he turned from a charismatic teenager to the cruel tyrant he became in later life. Hal is a young, handsome and gifted warrior, who believes he has been divinely chosen to lead his people. But throughout his life, he is haunted by a ghostly apparition, and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty.


'Thoughtful and involving, written in the present, making the past immediate.' - The Sunday Times

'An engrossing and rich novel' - The Telegraph

'Accessible, enjoyable and full of fascinating detail, VIII is a page-turner that encourages readers to eschew preconceptions and to look at this Tudor icon in a fresh light.' The Guardian

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.

You can also read contributions from H M Castor on The History Girls blog - click here.

Press below to hear the author talking about VIII.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st April 2012


H. M. Castor

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Templar Publishing


400 pages


11+ readers

General fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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