The Dead Queens Club

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book. I love anything to do with King Henry VIII, so when I saw the description of this book I had to pick it up! I loved this modern day retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives (I mean girlfriends!). It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I found I couldn't put it down. I loved Cleves and Henry's relationship. I loved little Katie. This was a masterful retelling with a great modern twist!
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I received a copy of the Dead Queens Club from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You know what.  I really enjoyed this book.  I really, really enjoyed it.  The book was pitched as Mean Girls meets The Tudors.  I didn't get that "Mean Girls" feel, but it did remind me of John Tucker Must Die, which is less popular, but I sure do love that movie.  So think more like John Tucker Must Die/The Heathers meets 10 Things I Hate About You.  This is a retelling of Henry VIII in present day high school drama with a lot of fun subtle historical reference.  Some made me roll my eyes, others I just laughed and like, dang Anne Boleyn's mottos were expertly used throughout.

If you're the type that love a good old fashioned teen movie and history, check this book out.  There was something "iconic" in the way high school was presented as the main character, "Anne of Cleves" slowly realizes something is very, very wrong with her friend Henry after not one, but two of his recent girlfriends dies.  

It's history, teen drama, mystery, and a little intense at moments because let's be real.  Men are terrifying.
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There was so much to enjoy about THE DEAD QUEENS CLUB! The voice was fantastic. However, I did find myself getting lost in the plot. There’s a lot of shifting back and forth between the past and present timelines without much demarcation. It was confusing, especially in the ARC format (to no fault of the book) but I struggled.

Cleves is a witty, entertaining protagonist, even if she was frustratingly indecisive. Occasionally it felt as if her voice was too curated, and it pulled me from the story. The history and feminism worked so well and was enjoyable. The girls striking back against toxic masculinity is timely and important, yet I couldn’t suspend my disbeliefs when it came to the plot.

Overall, a mixed experience. The author has a great voice and shows skilled character development; I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for their future works.
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I requested this book because I love history and am interested in the Henry VII and his life and so a modern YA retelling sounded liked a slam dunk to me. Unfortunately, I could not finish this book. I got very confused and it seemed to be a little all over the place. I guess trying to compare a crazy king who had many of his wives beheaded doesn't translate well to high school drama. 

One of the things that made this the hardest to read was the formatting. I know it is an ARC and the formatting will changed when it is published but it was pretty unreadable.
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The Dead Queens Club was on my list for most anticipated book for 2019. However, this was really kind of a mess. The plot was SO hard to follow. I had to keep re-reading to figure out what was going on. I really struggled to finish this book, which rarely happens to me. It was just almost impossible to figure out what was happening and to whom. If you can make it to the ending, then you'll appreciate it. The humor was good at points but sometimes it just felt forced. I normally love snark but this didn't feel natural. Overall, this book is okay, if you can make it the end you'll probably enjoy it.
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~2.75
Firstly, I will admit that I know next to nothing about history, let alone about Henry VIII, so I'm sure someone who actually knows the history about him will probably enjoy this more than I did if this was a good modern retelling. 

Now, about the actual book. In general, I did not find any of the characters particularly likable, especially Cleves. I find her personality to be quite grating. It's as if the author tried a bit too hard in attempting to make her a relatable girl by making her quirky and the "not the typical girl" kind of gal. Probably the "best" character out of the lot of characters is Cat, but she didn't grow on me until like 3/4 into the book, which is also when she actually shows her true colors. This is unfortunate since it would have made the story much more interesting if she had done that earlier. 

I would also like to comment on the pacing of the story. Firstly, I found the first half of the book kind of boring and a bit unnecessary to the plot since nothing important really happened. In fact, the story itself does not start to move until halfway through the book and approximately 3/4 way in the action really starts to happen. Maybe it was just me, but I found that the placing of the flashbacks was not done that well, as the jumping from the past to the present got confusing at times as it was not consistent, or maybe it was and I just never noticed (if that's the case then just disregard this comment). 

Lastly, I would also like to say that the ending wasn't bad, but it could've ended better, as I felt a bit unsatisfied. Perhaps an epilogue could have fixed this problem, as it would be nice to know what happened in the aftermath of the whole incident and what happened to the girls because admittedly, they were an awesome group that worked well together. 

Overall, I thought this was okay. Nothing outstanding, so don't be surprised if you're not entertained at first, but it does pick up later if you stick around for it.
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Disclosures first: I received this book from NetGalley for review purposes. I also don't do spoilers in reviews so this may be very vague. I'm sorry now!

I'm going to be honest, I really didn't think this was my kind of book. I love YA and a bit of a history geek but I generally hate modern adaptations of historical events. I didn't hate this.

Turning Henry VIII into the king of high school and his six wives into the six girlfriends of a serial monogamist was genius. Making Anne of Cleves, Henry's shortest marriage and the wife later referred to as his "beloved sister', the narrator was also a brilliant move. 

Espionage, drama, murder mastery, girl gangs, and sarcastic feminism round out a humorous take on a historical reality. There's enough true history and artistic license that history buffs and history haters a like will enjoy this novel. 

Join the Dead Queens Club now and enjoy the roller coaster.
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As someone who loved learning about Henry VII and his wives (especially Anne Boleyn), this novel was right up my alley in terms of interest. I will say that the novel started out slow and I did not know if I would finish it, but when the action hits, it hits hard and it was hard to put down in the end. The girls are not playing any games when it came to justice! I really loved that this brought a new look to the Henry VIII story and made it extremely easy to relate to for teenagers and connect with the setting being high school and none of the girls being true royalty. I would recommend this book to students who are interested in historical fiction and want new twists or just want a more modern look at history.
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Hello, I will be publishing this review to my Instagram, Goodreads, and blog on January 8th,2019. I will also publish it onto Amazon and Barnes & Noble on the publication date of January 29th, 2019. I will add the links to the reviews when they go public, thank you. 


Title: The Dead Queens Club
Author: Hannah Capin
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Rating: 3 stars
eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Dead Queens Club is a retelling of Henry VIII with high school girlfriends instead of wives. It is told in the PoV of his close friend Annie Marck aka Cleve who is a school journalist. She tries to find out the truth of what happened to his exes before another one bites the dust.

When I started this I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes retellings are great while others fall short. With this one, the high school setting really fits because sometimes high school can feel like a royal court. There is always drama no matter what. I also liked it being about girlfriends because it makes it more relatable. Now a days, there has been a lot of talk about women empowerment and women coming together  to support one another. The author does a great job building up the relationships between the girls all the way up until the end. The titles for the chapters were interesting because they were meant to be like news headlines.

The reason I'm  not sure about it is because there was a lot going on. It was like the movie Mean Girls but on steroids and it was just a little too much for me at times. I also wasn't a fan of the writing style. I did end up reading it in one sitting because I just wanted to know where it was going so obviously it wasn't all bad!

If you want to go on a crazy ride of high school drama, mean girls, and deadly relationships this book is for you!
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I received a copy of the Dead Queens Club from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked the idea of this novel and maybe I wasn't in the right mood for this one when I tried reading it. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters and the timeline was a little jumbled which left me feeling disconnected from the book. I might revisit this book at a later date because a book that has a high school setting and is a retelling of Henry VIII is so genius that I want to love this one.
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I received a copy of the Dead Queens Club from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.It's really lovely to read a book by someone who loves history as much as you do. I really liked the attention to detail and how lively the characters were. There were a few parts that made me cry.
I really liked Annie  Marck. This book is not just a historical retelling but a rumination on toxic friendships and internalized misogyny.
Long live the Queens.
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An intriguing reinvention of the wives of Henry VIII, down to Henry the magnetic jock's football jersey number being 8. Some of the parallels were fairly obvious, some had me itching to google details (but alas, I was reading this on a plane and so my phone was stuck on airplane mode right along with me). This modern take is only slightly less deadly, but thankfully comes with a healthy helping of feminism just robust enough to be vocally against slut-shaming. For those who enjoy drama, there is plenty of it, and I really wasn't quite sure where the plot was going multiple times. It certainly ended up in a place different than I had originally expected, although I am thankful for how it went.
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I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Dead Queens Club was pitched as Mean Girls meets The Tudors and as a modern retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives, except Henry is now a high school senior and it’s his six girlfriends.

There will definitely be readers that love this one. Unfortunately, I did not. The book struggled with two main things: characterization and pacing.

This is a very lengthy debut for a contemporary: 464 pages. If a YA contemporary is going to be this length, it needs to have excellent pacing. This story did not. At times, the story dragged out, and the death alluded to in the summary doesn’t happen until more than a third of the way through the book. When this character dies, it was treated as an “oh well, that happened” by the main character Cleves even though Cleves called that character one of her two best friends. The only exploration of grief from the loss of a friend is from Parker, Cleves’ friend. Parker is far more interesting and more hellbent on revenge, convinced that Henry was responsible for that death as well as two previous deaths, and that’s what drives the rest of the story.

As for the main character Annie “Cleves,” this is where characterization seems to be a particular struggle. In a throwaway line, we learn that Cleves was adopted and is Chinese. She has a sister who is mentioned only a few times and is almost never seen on page despite living together. Cleves is infatuated with Henry and is unsure of what she wants to do for college. She also is very much into breaking down the different standards for the female gender. And that’s about it. Her character is very one-dimensional, and I felt very apathetic towards her because the author never gave me much of a reason to be rooting for her or to even care about her.

If I had not been approved for the eARC, I wouldn’t have finished this.

So much potential but fell flat.
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3.5 stars

Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.

Annie Marck aka Cleveland aka Cleves is certain of one thing—Henry is her best friend and she's his right hand man. No matter what girl he's dating. And he's dated quite a few.

But strange things keep happening to Henry's girlfriends, and Cleves might be at the center of it all...
~
Okay, so lemme tell you what I loved.

I absolutely adored the Henry VIII parallel into modern day high school.

It works so damn well.

Granted, there are a couple of tweaks (compressing the timeline, girlfriends instead of wives, how Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard die, what happened to Jane), but so much 16th century gossipy goodness is packed into this story and there's a healthy dose of Shakespeare that I was in historical hog heaven the entire time.

There are just so many easter eggs planted throughout the story!

The Tower Anna Boleyn dies in. Henry's fitness and then his horrible, never-ending leg injury that he got doing a stupid stunt that Anna and co. goaded him into trying. Catalina Tortuga of Archibald-Callaway. That so many of the place names in Lancaster, Indiana, correspond to actual locations in Henry VIII's England. Cleves being Henry's bestie/sister and pretending like the marriage/relationship never happened. Many of the secondary and tertiary characters named like members of Henry's court. And on and on and on. None of these goodies are spoilers, btw.

I loved Cleves' snark and her voice. She's smart, but unfocused (more to that later) and has no freaking clue what the hell she's going to do after high school, and is low-key freaking out about it since all her friends have high flying plans and she's got nothing (sooooo relatable) besides tagging along with whatever Henry does (not so relatable but I can see it). She's also definitely got a heavy streak of sarcasm and a very interesting sense of fashion, so even if you have literally no clue why the God King himself would want her as a bestie, you're entertained by her zippy remarks.

And I really liked the climatic last portion of the story. It was tense, thrilling and as much chaotic as you would expect given what happened.

So what I wasn't so thrilled about:

Like Hamlet, Cleves might be smart, but she is indecisive as fuck. She takes her sweet time making her decisions, and she jumps about here and there with her actions and thoughts and comments, making her one hell of an unreliable narrator because you're never exactly sure what side she's really on. She whines about not being editor and hating Cat Parr who is editor, but makes a gajillion crappy editorial decisions, undermines Cat's authority at every turn and exhibits very few qualities that would make me feel like she could even have gotten into Overachiever's Camp in the first place.

In short, you want to smack her across the face and yell at her to focus and actually be the objective investigative reporter she claims to be.

Plus, aside from the thrilling last 10%, the entire last half of the story bogs down with the weight of Cleves' indecision and waffling. I really feel like a solid 100 pages could have been snipped away as cleanly as Ann Boleyn's head and nothing would have been lost from the book.

So reasons to read this book:

1. A creative historical Henry VIII gossip fest in a high school setting and it works
2. Feminist history that puts things into perspective
3. (view spoiler)
4. Snarky heroine and found-friends girl gang.
5. Fluff with a nice dose of teen craziness and gore.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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This book was a party that I was way too excited to go to, and then once I got there it wasn't as great as I'd hoped, but I still had fun!

As someone who was far too obsessed with all things Tudor back in high school, all you have to say to me is "King Henry and all his wives, but set it in high school" and I'm sold. The story follows Anne, aka Cleves, the new girl at Lancaster High, and her best friend, Henry, football star and notorious serial dater. Even with minimal knowledge of King Henry VIII, you know how the rest of the story goes. But, what would've happened if all of his wives banded together to enact their revenge? The book reads as The Tudors meets John Tucker Must Die, and was truly a wild ride from start to finish.

The characters in this book are beautifully fleshed out and vivid, and are what truly carried the story for me. Each one of them had unique personalities and I never had trouble telling them apart, which is important when you've got such a big cast. I especially loved Parker, she was complex and layered and had such a unique perspective, interesting backstory, and crucial part of the plot. Truthfully, I would read just an entire book about her.

I also loved how well the little historical details were weaved throughout. From Henry's leg injury, to Anna's necklace, and how each girlfriend's backstory tied into one another. Condensing a large chunk of a country's history into one small town and a high school is a difficult task, but, the author made it seem easy and fairly seamless. The plot really didn't kick in until about the halfway point of the book, the first half reading as extensive backstory and exposition. But, once the action (and heads) finally started rolling, I went from struggling to get through it to finishing the the book in a matter of hours.

Unfortunately, I did have some issues with the writing and the narrator's voice. It often felt like the writing was working too hard to be quirky and overtly snarky or sarcastic, full of hyphenated, conglomerate words and improbable dialogue. It pulled me out of the book constantly and kept me from really getting invested until the action became more intense.

If the narration had been toned down I feel this book would have completely knocked me out of the park. It was still a fun read, but it didn't quite live up to all my expectations, which could easily have been my own fault. If you love well-done characters, murder mysteries, and high school antics, definitely check this book out!
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Grade: DNF

When did I stop reading?: 23% into my e-galley.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Well that was disappointing. The main problem with The Dead Queens Club stems from the fact that the narrative hops around constantly, going back in time and going forward with no real signals. Plus, there are a heck ton of characters to keep straight and no one's personality felt fully-formed. Also I felt like the author tried to make Henry likable? And there's no way anyone who's based on Henry VIII could be likable. I appreciated that Anne of Cleves was the narrator, but she just added nothing. I also didn't understand how anything worked at their high school, and I'm wondering if I'm too far removed from high school now?? (Dear God, I hope not.)

The Verdict: Maybe there's an audience for this book, but it's not me.
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I was excited to read this book, but unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. The idea was great, but it just didn't work for me. The main,problem was the pacing. It was soooooo slow and long. I get the need for the backstory but literally nothing happened for,the first half of,the book. And don't get me started on Cleveland. She drove me nuts with her willful blindness and constant excuses on Henry's behalf. Not a winner for me.
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The synopsis of this story sounded amazing because I loved the Mean Girls movie, buuuuut I have to say that I didn’t like this book. I’m not sure if it’s the writing style or the way that Cleves is portrayed. Or it could have been the story being a little slow. Or maybe because its an historical book and I haven’t really read many, I don’t really gravitate toward those type so maybe that’s why I didn’t like this one? I’m not sure.

This is a retelling of Henry the Viii and his six wives but with a high school twist. Which I think is a cool way to put a twist on it. Cleves is Henry’s 4th girlfriend, then one day when 2 of henry’s girlfriends end up dead from mysterious accidents. That’s when Cleves and the other girlfriends start to piece everything together and try to catch henry in the act.

I don’t want to give this a bad review, but I must. Again, I loved the premise of the story but for me it just didn’t fall though for me in being a great book
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I was so fraking excited about this book when I first learned about it. I am a HUGE Tudor enthusiast, like crazy. I've read biographies about them (a lot of Elizabeth I ones because I find her really badass) and watched the movies/TV shows, I love this drama infused bunch. So I was ecstatic when we received the ARC for The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin. And Holy Hole in a Doughnut! 

It was fantastic. 
Imagine the Tudors meets Mean Girls with a touch of Gossip Girl and that is exactly what The Dead Queens Club is! Hannah Capin decided to bring this story to the 21st century and OH! MY! GOD! it works so well! Henry VIII was essentially a girl crazy teenager, why did I never see it before?!?!?! Nothing is forgotten in this book, the author hits all the little details, it’s so well done that I wanted to scream cause of how awesomely good it was. The setting is perfect. Who knew that bringing these iconic characters in a more modern  era would match the story so well. All that plotting and gossiping is perfect for high school. 


The plot is a tad slow but starts moving at a faster pace more towards the end. I really didn’t mind the pacing because it allowed me to discover the characters and watch every detail of this brilliant retelling unfold. The author even managed to get in his injury that left him with a bad leg and the way it’s done is clever. 


Our main girl is Annie aka Cleves, nickname given by Golden Boy himself , since Annie is from Cleveland (get it? Anne of Cleves like as in wife number 4). She is this fun, sarcastic - quirky character with a Rolodex of pop culture references that I can only applaud. Cleves is a feminist, calling out slut-shaming and fighting to find the truth, even if she might not like what the truth is. She’s always been my favourite of all the wives and I’m so happy on how the author decided to portray her in The Dead Queens Club. It felt true to what I know and relate to Anne of Cleves. All the Queens resemble some aspects of their historical counterparts and this books is very much for them. Hannah Capin gives these women a voice.
 

Oh and Henry... what to say about Henry. Golden boy, human magnet, egotistical chauvinist - Hannah Capin really kept true to what I know and love about King Henry VIII. OK, yes he's a prick but I can't help but love him - though I wouldn't have wanted to be one of his girlfriends. Not everyone gets out of a relationship with Henry and lives to tell the tale. 

If you are like me and are a fan of The Tudors and every scheming person affiliated with them, chances are you will love this book. It kept me wanting more and I just didn’t want to put it down. Hats off to Hannah Capin who was able to make me love these characters even more than I already did. I can’t wait to see what she does next, I will definitely be checking out her next book ,which is supposed to be a Lady Macbeth retelling (Helleth Yeah!). Let me leave you with these words of wisdom: Ugh Jane Seymour!


Thank you Inkyard Press and Netgalley.  ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Inkyard Press through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

I'm afraid this will not be the glowing review I so wanted it to be. I'm going to get into each major factor that lowered my rating so you can judge if this book is something you want to check out, because OH. MY GOD. the ending (or the last 150 pages that I call "the ending") was a psychological, mess-with-your mind masterpiece. Have you ever watched Pretty Little Liars? The wrap-up for this book was the most epic PLL season finale, with extra sass mixed in. 

The first thing that didn't mesh with me for this book was its beginning and then somewhat muddled middle. The Dead Queens Club summary makes Cleves out to be a determined investigator in the deaths of Henry's exes. In reality, Cleves is Henry's best friend forever (they're really, really close, okay?) who will follow him anywhere, anytime. She's confronted with his "suspicious" past by several characters and vehemently denies his culpability for a loooong time. The actual sleuthing in this book is done by her friend Parker, and a few of Henry's other exes. Cleves just kind of ... narrates? Which honestly, she does really well. Her spunky snark is a favourite protagonist voice style of mine.

The second thing I struggle with was the entire feminist aspect of this book. Cleves is a self-proclaimed feminist. As a writer on the school paper, all she wants is to include anti-slut shaming articles. She frequently calls out fellow students for masochistic remarks. But she herself is very problematic. Notably, she:

Refers to one of Henry's exes, Jane, as "a girl so boring that looking at her picture for eight seconds cures clinical insomnia." Throughout the book, Cleves bashes Jane for being extremely boring and forgettable. (Feminism is about supporting each other!)
Puts down women who work hard (uses a mocking nickname students create for her friend, Parker, and bullies her editor-in-chief for having strict deadlines) and pranks Henry's exes/her friends without needing cause. (Some of the pranks were mean.)
At the end of the book, Cleves gets together with the girls she has mocked and sees them for their strengths. But this is at the end of a 460+ page book. I felt she could have seen the error in her ways a little sooner? 

Third thing! This is a very specific dislike within the book. A comment was made within Cleves' narration that made me incredibly uncomfortable. To give some context, one of Henry's exes was named Anna Boleyn. She is one of the dead exes. A year ago, there was a party at "the Tower," a piece of real estate (still under construction) and some fireworks were somehow placed under it. The fireworks went off, the building blew up, and Anna was the main suspect. 

"But I don't care, because the only thing I need right now is to forget about Ms. Parr and Judas Rochford and Anna bin Laden and every Lancaster kid."

I don't want to assume to know what the author was thinking with this line. I just don't think it's an appropriate joke. 

My dislikes did overpower a lot of the good in this book, because the last two made me uncomfortable and the first one disrupted my reading flow. At first I didn't know what was going on, and then I didn't like the message the author was sending, and then I got near the end and FINALLY I was enjoying things and I was really getting into everything! But I was spoiled at that point. 

Capin has a great idea here. A retelling of Henry VIII? I was in from the start. Henry's character is truly well done, I give major points to his development throughout the story. The way the girlfriends/exes weave in and out of the story really felt like a historical drama gone teen TV show. I'll for sure be looking up the life of Henry VIII now, I can say that. 

I struggled for a long time to choose a rating. Ultimately, my discomfort with the amount of slut-shaming done by a so-called feminist, as well as the joke/comment Cleves makes, led me to keep this at a 2.5 crown. Three on official rating sites. 

Posting to blog Jan 10: https://bookprincessreviews.wordpress.com/
Posting to Goodreads Jan 10: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2629641523
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