52 in 52: The Boleyn Reckoning, by Laura Andersen

[This review is based on an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) digital edition published by Ballantine Books in 2014, and provided by NetGalley.]

Before you read this review, you should check out my thoughts on both The Boleyn King and The Boleyn Deceit!

Here’s the deal:
The Boleyn Reckoning picks up with the trial and conviction of the Duke of Northumberland, Robert Dudley’s father, for crimes he committed in The Boleyn Deceit (one of which he was not actually directly responsible for). King William is still recovering from his near-deadly bout with smallpox, and slowly he begins to behave as selfishly and irresponsibly as his father had before him (even more so in real life than in the novels). Dominic and Minuette have a new secret to keep and, upon being discovered, both are locked up in the Tower, tried for their crime against the King, and sentenced to death. Mary finally makes a play for the throne, and Elizabeth serves as everyone’s voice of reason throughout. Lots of secrets are revealed and treachery abounds — how high will the bodies pile up by the story’s end?

My thoughts:
First of all, the cover art: Blue is my favorite color, so I was naturally drawn to this gorgeous cover! Secondly, the writing and attention to detail: spot on, as they were with the first and second books. I found myself wishing I had the ability to write like Ms. Andersen. Her use of descriptive language paints such beautiful pictures, and I felt as though I were actually at court and on the battlefield with the characters. That’s how good books should make you feel, no?

There is so much happening in this final installment of the Boleyn trilogy that it’s very simple to maintain interest. Between the changes in William’s temperament, the love story still burning bright between Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s slow and steady rise toward succession, and all the drama — oh, the drama! — to be devoured, there’s plenty to keep a reader busy. At the same time, it’s easy to keep up with and not feel a sense of confusion about all the confrontations, which anyone could appreciate! I really love that Laura Andersen jumps back and forth between characters, so that each of the “Holy Quartet” (though not so much holy or a quartet anymore), as our four main characters are called, has an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Even more so, I love that the story is all tied together with Minuette’s diary entries and letters written between characters — it’s a neat way to share exposition without becoming overbearing. The only piece of exposition I wish there were more detail surrounding was the death of a major character, who shall not be named. (No spoilers here!)

Full disclosure, I hated William in this installment…but I’m sure that Ms. Andersen meant for readers to develop strong feelings about him during the course of the book. While I hated the changes in his behavior and the way he began treating his friends, council members, and subjects, I also felt immensely sorry for him. Minuette and Dominic should have come clean with him much earlier than they finally did, and they should have spoken with him personally, either before or after William’s illness. The circumstances under which he discovered the truth were seriously harsh and unfair for all parties involved, and despite his terrible behavior I still wanted to hug William. After he released his wrath upon both Minuette and Dominic, however, my pity was gone and the anger had returned. Ultimately, all I wanted for the Quartet was a happy ending. This being the Tudor dynasty, fictional though it may be, I knew that someone’s ending would not be so pleasant, though I was surprised by whose it was.

So would I recommend this book?
Definitely!!! As someone who loved the previous novels in this trilogy, I wasn’t the least bit surprised by how much I enjoyed The Boleyn Reckoning as well! I do hope you’ll give it a read, but please make sure to read The Boleyn King and The Boleyn Deceit first — I promise, you will be completely lost if you attempt to read these out of order!

The Boleyn Reckoning will be available for purchase on July 15, 2014.

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