A Henry VIII retelling set in a modern high school with the wives being prom and homecoming queens? Throw in a dashing lead, a little murder, and I am SOLD. I didn’t discover this book until right before it came out and couldn’t read it right away, but I’m a sucker for Henry VIII, so I was all-in the second I got my hands on it.
Dead Queens Club is set in Lancaster, Indiana. It goes back and forth in time a bit, which can be confusing, but when we meet Cleves (aka Annie Marks aka Anne of Cleves) her best friend (and brief ex) Henry is dating his fifth girlfriend is less than a year, Katie Howard. But we also hear about how Cleves met Henry at Overachiever Camp, when he was still head over heels for Lina (Katalina Aragon…), before falling for Anna, then Jane, then Cleves for a minute, and then Katie Howard. But one of those girlfriends is dead, as is her brother, in a tower explosion she’s blamed for, and Cleves keeps asking questions about it. When another girlfriend ends up dead, Cleves and some unlikely allies team up to fight censorship, strengthen the bonds of female friendship, take down the king, and protect their own.
The book is funny and witty and the way Capin incorporates Henry VIII things into it is amazing. The leg injury, the Tower, the girlfriends, his family history…it all just fits so nicely into this story. The storytelling can get a bit wonky with the timeline, but you don’t want to start at the beginning and go forward because where’s the fun in that? The way Capin does it, it draws you in. It shows you Cleves’ relationship with Henry and helps you understand why she likes him even when he’s flying through girlfriends. I know I’m supposed to hate Henry, but for the majority of this book he was such great character. Yes, I’m already dream casting it. Stay tuned for that blog post. Hint: Noah Centineo.
Okay, I could rant about how I love the journalism/blog elements of this book, the headlines in chapters, the sassy rants, and even the minor characters, but I would go on forever. Simply put, read this book. It helps if you have a general knowledge of the history of Henry VIII, but you don’t have to. This book is a fun, feminist romp through a crazy bit of history but set against the backdrop of high school drama, a bit of murder, young romance, and all that jazz.