I am a sucker for historical fiction, so when I saw that Maid of the King’s Court focused on the Tudor period of British history I was instantly reading to read it. There are some great things going on here, but unfortunately, this one fell a little bit flat for me.
First, the good.
I love that Lucy Worsley actually works in London as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, and that she got the idea for this book from rumors that Katherine Howard still haunts the Hampton Court palace, racing to find her husband, King Henry VIII to plead for her life. It’s such a rich and interesting premise to base a fictional story on, and I really wish this novel had focused more on Katherine and less on the fictional character of Eliza. Telling the story from the point of view of made-up character might have its advantages, but it also has major drawbacks. For one thing, this story didn’t feel like the story of Henry VIII or any of his wives. It felt like Eliza’s story (because, obviously, she’s the one telling the story – she’s the main protagonist). Sure, Katherine Howard is a key player in many ways, but she never felt like the protagonist, and we never get her POV. I really really think this book would have been ten times more interesting if we had.
Now, that’s not to say that this didn’t have interesting moments – I was totally engrossed in learning more about Henry VIII and his wives because this book peaked my interest on that topic several times. Because they aren’t really the focal point of the book, we just get little teasers about Henry and his insane string of marriages. Those little historical nuggets left me wanting more, and I ended up spending a very long time on google reading up on these intriguing historical figures.
All in all, this book might be better suited to a Middle Grade audience, as most Middle Grade readers probably won’t mind a thinner historical setting. I think most older readers will come away wishing there was a stronger historical foundation here.
Rating: 3/5 stars