The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This is a rare mystery that combines fast, engrossing pacing with rich character development.  The characters are textured and believable and the scenery atmospheric, which is difficult to do while trying to keep the action moving.  The one drawback is that the chapters are too long to make the book truly fast-paced.  Shorter chapters seem to automatically make the action move faster when the book is well-written (as this one is.)  The author, I think, made extra work for herself by trying to develop too much of the story by creating longer chapters.
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This historical fiction includes a mystery.  Switching between the present and the past, the author tells us that some of what we thought we knew about Henry VIII may not be correct.  The story gives us a definite "what if" reality and leaves us wondering.  Alexandra Walsh obviously spent time and effort to get the historical parts right while developing an outstanding cast of characters for the mystery.  A unique book that doesn't quite fit any genre but is definitely a good read.
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy by Alexandra Walsh. Released 28th March 2019 by Sapere books, it's 464 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a dual time line with a parallel narrative. The plots intertwine between 1539-1542 and 2018. The stories are well demarcated and aren't confusing to keep track of. The writing is consistent and the additional historical details are interesting. I'm a huge fan of the period, so it was exciting to see the stories intertwine with historical occurrences resonating profoundly down to the present day.

In some ways it reminded me a lot of The Da Vinci Code. Shadowy conspiracy history thugs and a lone academic (with sidekicks) foiling all their nefarious plans. I have to admit that I really did enjoy the book most when I just silenced my suspension of disbelief's annoying whine and tossed it into to the closet. For readers who are looking for meticulous verisimilitude and realistic plot devices, this one might not fit the bill. On the other hand, for readers who (even secretly) love Dan Brown, and movies like National Treasure (with a dash of Indiana Jones on the side), this one could be a good selection.

Some of the descriptions (especially of Henry and his sexual conquests) may possibly be triggering for some readers. I found the portrayal of HenryVIII pretty over the top. He -was- apparently a harsh guy with a prodigious potential for violence, but his portrayal in the book is fairly extreme. The language is moderately strong (one 'F-bomb' in context), but not over the top.

I enjoyed the book, it's a nice historical thriller. I'll be reading (and reviewing) the second book in the series soon.

Four stars.
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A brilliant read and completely absorbing.  Beautifully written and very well researched which made it an excellent read.  I loved it.
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For a debut novel, I was incredibly impressed.  Most debut novels, well, read like first novels – especially when they are the first of a trilogy.  This one, however, was well written and kept me interested the entire time.  I should be said, I have a HUGE interest in all things Tudor England – both fiction and non-fiction – so the bar was set pretty high whether or not I would like this novel.

If you know much of anything about Tudor England, there will be some information that won’t be a surprise to you, however the author does a great job adding in enough twists within the story that you won’t be bored reading the same facts over and over again.  While I don’t usually enjoy dual timeline stories (I find I tend to like one storyline over the other), I though this one was well done and the transitions didn’t take me out of the story at all.

I can’t wait to read the second book when it comes out, and will also keep a look out for any other books that the author writes in the future.
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is told in a dual timeline that focuses on today and 1542. It was a bit hard to get use to at first, but as the plot moved along, the split worked out really well. I love the time around Henry VIII so this book was a pleasure to read. It had a lot of intrigue in the present day plot, and the fictional conspiracy plot around Henry VIII's fifth wife Catherine Howard was incredibly original. Some parts were hard to read because of the subject matter, but it fit with the time period so it wasn't thrown in for shock value and was treated respectfully by Ms. Walsh. I give this book 4.5 stars and I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.
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J'ai absolument adoré ce livre !! Il contient tout ce que j'aime : du mystère, de l'amour, l'époque Médiévale. 
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After a slow start while all the characters are introduced, this book quickly turned into a page-turner. I'm not usually a fan of the back-and-forth-through-time type books, but author Alexandra Walsh made it work!
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This read like a Dan Brown conspiracy novel, only about the Tudors, and I don't mean that in a good way. There was so much eye rolling with this I was afraid they'd get stuck that way. Granted, it was MUCH better written than anything Dan Brown pumps out, but still. What is the point of trying to convince me that Catherine Howard wasn't actually executed and that people would be upset about it if so? I just couldn't buy it. At least it was a quick read and was well written with lots of fun Tudor-era historical details. It wasn't *bad* per se. Maybe I just don't care enough about Catherine Howard to go for this. I guess better her than Anne Boleyn. If it had been written about Anne, I would have been angry.
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I picked this up because I have always enjoyed historical fiction related to Henry VIII. This book did not disappoint. I liked the family drama of the grandmother the twins don't talk to leaving them the entire house, as well as the mystery and plot surrounding Catherine Howard. It was an excellent and enjoyable book
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I really enjoyed this take on Catherine Howard's story.  She was never a Queen that I particularly enjoyed reading about but this book has changed that.  It isn't historical fiction, this story is more of an alternative history, and I loved all the twists and turns it took.  It also has a side by side story set in present day which was more of a Dan Brown style mystery.  I absolutely loved this combination of some of my favourite genres and can't wait to pick up the next in the trilogy to see where we are taken next!
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing this book for an unbiased review.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was more of a 3.5 stars for me. Perdita learns that her grandmother has passed away and she has inherited The Marquess House along with many of its secrets. After a non-existent relationship with her grandmother, to say that she is taken by surprise is an understatement. The premise of this book is an interesting one, what if Catherine Howard (aka the second wife that Henry VIII decided was too troublesome to keep alive) had actually survived. Parts Nancy Drew with a large dose of the DaVinci Code this is a super fun read. 

My main points of complaint are pretty tiny points. I found the jumping back and forth between time periods a little bit clunky, especially when the Ms. Walsh would repeat facts that we already knew from previous chapters. My main sticking point is purely a personal one, I love the Tudor monarchs, they are a fascinating bunch so as someone with background in the subject, I found some of the theories put forward to be quite big stretches. 

Nonetheless, if you like a good mystery with some history thrown in, I think that this is an excellent pick. I will be grabbing the next book in the series for a quick read later this summer. 

If you liked my review, please give me a follow on instagram @my_bookishthoughts
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Fascinating Mystery.
A fictional alternate story about the life and death of Catherine Howard. The book goes back and forth between the C16th and the present day, both time periods being compulsive reads. On the one hand we have Court intrigues, brutality, strong friendships and a King with violent mood swings; and on the other murder, conspiracy, suspense and the unfolding of long held secrets. A recommended read.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I usually don’t like dual timeline stories with two different narratives but this story grabbed me and kept me interested all the way through. Very well done. Thank you publisher and netgalley for this arc in exchange of an honest review.
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Part historical fiction, part intrigue, this is a real page-turner, and those who enjoy conspiracy theories will undoubtedly love this book. The novel moves between the present day and Tudor times, offering a new take on Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard.  Fact is merged with fiction, presenting a much more favourable portrayal of Catherine and a decidedly more negative one of Henry VIII, who is depicted as a repulsive wifebeater with no redeeming qualities. 

The parallel storyline is that of Dr Perdita Rivers, an archaeologist who inherits a large Tudor mansion in Wales following the death of her grandmother. The mystery of her mother’s death many years before interweaves with the story of Catherine Howard, creating an interesting alternation of viewpoints. There is also a twin sister with a very secondary role. One can only assume this will be developed in the forthcoming novels.

Personally, I found the parts set in the Tudor era more satisfying and the characters better developed. Although a strong, courageous woman, Perdita isn’t altogether convincing and the other present-day figures somewhat sketchy. The series of revelations in the second half of the book were perhaps a little predictable and some threads stretched my credulity a little too far, as in the case of the mermaid theme. There is a limit to suspension of disbelief. 

However, overall I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.
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I was initially drawn to this book by the dual timeline storyline. While at first this story does not immediately draw you in the story slowly builds until you wonder how you missed the subtle hints. The story starts in 1542 and moves to the present following an archaeologist uncovering a mystery. I can appreciate stories about the times long past as it is a part of my profession and I can tell that this timeline was well researched. Magnificent.
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I found the premise of this book very interesting but I did not find the actual book very interesting.  The story was very far fetched  but the characters were likeable
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This was an excellent mystery novel that definitely made me stop and think, with some red herrings thrown in along the way. Absolutely loved it!
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I really enjoyed this book. I am a sucker for anything Tudor related. 

It follows Perdita and her twin sister Piper as they start to unravel their families past and history. I did find some of they writing jarring. It would just jump from own train of though to another too quickly. Some facts and some of the writing can be a bit off at times but overall, I think that it was a good book at capturing your attention and if you look at the overall story, it is very good and will keep you engaged. 

I would recommend this book for something who loves historical fiction and wants a little mystery thrown in there too!
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A new trilogy set in the mysterious Marquess House in Pembrokeshire, this is part narrated from the point of view of Perdita Rivers, a jewelry expert who inherits the house from her estranged grandmother, and partly from the point of view of Catherine Howard. Whilst I didn't always agree with the portrayal of the historical figures, for example Henry portrayed as a brutal wife beater, I appreciated that whenever the author could she used historical fact, which she explains in the footnote, and she has obviously done her research. 

Walsh believes that Catherine was misrepresented by history and was not the airheaded flirt that she has been portrayed as, and I could see her reasoning and wanted to learn more. Of particular note was the idea that she had a cordial relationship with Anne of Cleaves whom she taught to dance. Some of the conspiracy elements seemed a little far-fetched at times, but it did add to the excitement of the novel and I both enjoyed reading it and wanted to read the next in the series. Perdita is an interesting character and I'm looking forward to finding out what is happening with Kit. The Catherine Howard parts were well written from a historical perspective and from the character perspective. You really feel for her as she is forced to marry the repugnant Henry to assist her power grabbing family and it's evident that whether or not he was a wife beater, he did suffer from memory issues. This is available on Kindle Unlimited and I would recommend it for readers who enjoy conspiracy theories, alternative history and historical fiction/contemporary fiction.
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