Cover Image: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

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Member Reviews

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with an ARC of this novel! I was on the hunt for some new historical fiction this past month and requested this on impulse – and it turned out to be a really good decision! A historical thriller with some Da Vinci Code style mystery, The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is a ‘what if’ novel, positing that the tale of Henry VIII’s fifth queen is not quite what it seems.

I’ve read my share of Tudor era historical fiction about the six wives of Henry VIII, and personally I’ve always found those revolving around Catherine Howard to be very sad. In every book I’ve read so far, Catherine Howard is portrayed in one of two fashions: as a silly child caught up in the pomp and grandeur of court, easily led astray or as a girl used as a pawn by her powerful family and manipulated in the games of powerful and dangerous men.

Walsh, however, lends Kitty Howard a unique voice, working around the commonly accepted facts regarding the reign of Henry’s fifth wife to weave a refreshing and sympathetic tale that, wonder of wonders, actually sounds like it might have a semi-happy ending for this unfortunate queen. As interesting as this twist on history was, it was even better to see it unfold from the present day viewpoint of Perdita Rivers. I am very fond of stories that run on parallel timelines as I’ve always found that the back and forth between the time periods provides a much better perspective to the tale. There are few things I enjoy more than a good mystery, and this had two! What caused Perdita’s grandmother, the historian Mary Fitzroy, to cut off contact all those years ago? And what really happened to Catherine Howard?

When it comes to the other characters, I have to say, the Tudor era characters were much better written than the modern day ones, possibly because the present characters were so completely focussed on unravelling Mary’s research that there didn’t seem to be adequate time for their own stories. Two Tudor era characters that surprised me most (apart from Catherine) were the Duke of Norfolk, whom I have always seen depicted as a figure who put ambition and power first, and Henry VIII himself, in the most unflattering and utterly horrifying portrayal I have yet to read. It was also really heartwarming to see Kitty’s family and friends rally around her when she needed it the most – again, something I’ve never really come across in any version of her story before this.

There were a few minor points I found a little annoying. The biggest reveal of the book was too easy to guess. With the amount of detail in the present day timeline, I had a good idea far too early and it reduced the suspense value towards the end. And speaking of the ending, there was way too much happening in the last part. The pacing was perfect up until then, and it wouldn’t have hurt to add a few more chapters to give the big reveal the page time it deserves. Still, this is a trilogy, and I’m sure the surprises are only beginning. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series!

Alexandra Walsh’s take on Catherine Howard melds historical facts with some pretty realistic sounding and well thought-out fiction. Well researched and imaginative, this is a thrilling and thoroughly engrossing read that fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory are sure to enjoy.
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As a huge Tudor fan, I was so excited to be approved for this book!  Unfortunately it didn't grip me, and I kind of had to push myself to finish it. To me it wa middle of the road, and I was hoping for so much more. Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for allowing me to read in return for an honest review  3 and a half stars
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I can’t remember ever feeling angry at a book before, but that’s how I felt when I finished this one. The central premise of the modern section was difficult to get on board with, I was hoping it would be explained in the denouement. However, it wasn’t and the story was decidedly incomplete. I don’t mind a series, if this is what this is intended to be, but each book should be able to stand on its own. I felt entirely robbed by the ending. There was also a sub-plot involving the sister and her husband that was barely explored and then dropped half way through the book. 

I also find it really irritating when authors assume the reader is so stupid that they have to explain a piece of information more than once. I noticed two occasions in this book where we were told the same thing twice.

This could have been a decent book, a feminist re-evaluation of Catherine Howard could have been fantastic, it’s a real shame.
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Alexandra Walsh is my new favorite Author!
The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, is an amazing book. I loved how you got Kitty's perspective and Perds. The Tudor Reign is one of my favorite part of history and I have always felt the Catherine Howard was not given enough credit. But this book gives you a wonderful perspective of the what if??
I can not wait for book 2 and see what happens to my new favorite characters.
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This was my first ever ‘ARC’ type read, after signing up to Net Galley recently. I was a little trepidatious as I really wanted to make sure this was something I wanted to read, not just because I may have the change to read it for free. When this popped up, I immediately gravitated towards the cover as it reminded me of Phillipa Gregory. I was obsessed with Gregory’s books when I was a teenager, and when you think of historical fiction is the go-to author usually. I haven’t really read much historical fiction outside of her work, as I often haven’t found them as fun to read. They tend to get too hung up on the historical details and don’t put as much effort into the plot and characters.

I am happy to say that the Catherine Howard Conspiracy, however, not only matched my experiences with Philippa Gregory but possibly surpassed them! This was due, I think, to the added twist of the different time periods giving it an extra mysterious edge. As you can see in the synopsis, the book is set in 2018 and the mid-1500s. The Tudors are one of my favourite periods of history, so my interest was officially piqued, and I decided to give it a go. I read it in a couple of days, flying through and not wanting it to end. I’m happy that it seems to be the first in a trilogy, but I’m already anxious to keep reading! Please write faster Walsh!

So, you know I liked it a lot, but let’s have a look at why. 

The novel began properly in 2018 with Perdita, who was instantly likeable and a really well-formed character that grew throughout the book. The 1539 portions were from the point of view of Catherine Howard, and it was interesting to read more about this time period, as I didn’t know as much about her as Henry VIII’s first few wives. I’d say there was an immediate shift in the atmosphere, and there was a great balance of description and plot. You really related to this young fifteen-year-old reluctantly coming to court and having her life spin completely out of her control. You really got to know her family and friends around her and got a real sense of the hustle and bustle of court life. 

Far from jarring, I enjoyed the back and forth between time periods. It was funny though, as I was just getting into one part of the story it would switch back and I’d be both disappointed to leave Perdita or Catherine, but then excited to be joining the other again! I think it only flipped about 4 or 5 times, so they were long enough to really get hooked, and then short enough to leave you wanting more. 

I liked that while based on history, the entire concept of the book is asking whether history is really the truth, and so as time went on there was more artistic licence but still felt very believable. In fact, by the end, I was convinced by some of the theories! Once they laid out the facts, there are so many anomalies and inconsistencies, so it was so fun to discover them alongside Perdita as the book went on. But the impact of her discoveries was so much more powerful due to how much it affects Perdita and her twin Piper, the only family she has left. There were so many emotional layers to unravel, for both Perdita and Catherine, and the mystery was only heightened by them. 

There were so many more twists and turns than I expected too – they just kept coming. My mouth kept falling open as the intrigue got deeper and deeper. I loved how visually descriptive It was too, and I think it would suit a screen adaptation. Ideally, a TV show, so as to really show the details and depths of the story. 

Looking forward to book number two!
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I was sent an eb0ok for an honest review. I was so excited to read this book because of my love of all things Tudor related. However, this book fell short for me. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t something I just devoured.
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3 and 1 / 2 stars


This book has several things about it that I love and study: Tudor England, archaeology and shipwrecks. What's not to love? 

After receiving a surprising and shocking bequest from their estrange grandmother, Perdita nd her twin sister Piper begin making plans to change their lives accordingly. Perdita, a specialist in Tudor history is delighted to learn that there is not only a research facility, but a library dedicated to the Tudor era on the grounds. 

As Perdita begins to go through her grandmother's research in the research center, the book morphs into Catherine Howard's story. King Henry VIII is dissatisfied with his present wife Anne of Cleves and now has his eye on Catherine, also called “Kitty.” Catherine is horrified, she has made friends with Queen Anne and does not want to have anything to do with Henry. He is ageing, corpulent and smells bad. She knows well what happened to her cousin Anne Boleyn and the ambition of her uncle the Duke of Norfolk.

This is a “what if” novel about Catherine Howard's marriage to King Henry VIII. It posits that Catherine did not die on the scaffold and did not have an intimate relationship with Thomas Culpepper. It is an interesting idea. I'm not sure how much research Ms. Walsh did, but the book makes for good reading. It was fairly well written and well plotted. I found Perdita's temper flare-ups tiring. I found Piper with her problems more palatable. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Sapere Books for forwarding to me a copy of this alternative history for me to read and review.
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This book had a great spin to the tragic life of Catherine Howard. I was googling facts to see if these allegations could possibly have some footing throughout the book. There are two timelines in this story and unfortunately I only enjoyed one of them. The more recent timeline reminded me of a more predictable And Then There Were None. Some of the smaller twists I didn't see coming but all the big ones had neon flashing lights. The end felt overwhelmingly rushed through and dragged on. I didn't think that was possible till this book. It seemed like anywhere she could throw a twist in she did very quickly. Great concept but not my type of execution (no pun intended). Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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What a great historical fiction thriller this was, in the present day twin sisters Perdita and Piper inherited a huge estate from their Grandmother.  They grew up without knowing her, their mother died when they were young.  There is a mystery that comes with the estate.  What really happened to Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of Henry VIII.  History tells us she was beheaded but was she really.

The story goes back and forth between times,  I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book.  I loved every Page.
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is a riveting historical thriller. Alexandra Walsh’s novel questions the validity of the acknowledged historical account of the fate of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, imagining an alternate outcome with far-reaching present day consequences. Whilst researching her recently inherited historical home from her maternal grandmother, Perdita Rivers uncovers a a family secret. Hidden for generations and at threat of exposure, the government is determined to stop the information surfacing and risking turning the nation’s safety on its head.
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I absolutely loved this book!

It's interesting and clever and so well written that despite the author openly stating it is a work of fiction, I'm totally on-board with the conspiracy theories! It's half Alison Weir, half Dan Brown. 

Eminent historian Mary Fitzroy dies and leaves her estranged granddaughters, twins Perdita and Piper a vast estate once owned by Anne Boleyn. She also leaves her unpublished research - a book about Henry Vlll's fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Perdita starts to unravel the mysteries of Marquess House - why did her grandmother abandon them all those years ago? And what really happened to Catherine Howard?

Catherine Howard is often portrayed as young, foolish and completely manipulated by her family, but Walsh gives her a clear and much more sympathetic voice. This is the first part of a trilogy and there are already some big hints as to where it is heading. To be honest I'm surprised someone as intelligent as Perdita hasn't spotted them herself!

I really enjoyed this book and hopefully it won't be too long to wait for the next installment. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced copy in return for a review.
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I loved this book it is a Tudor story but with a terrific twist.
 If you don't mind your history being tweaked a bit this is the book for you the two time frames between the 14th century and now blend seamlessly I cannot wait for the next book.
Brilliant!!
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is a great read for historical fiction fans. I always felt sorry for poor Kitty Howard. Being related to Anne Boleyn probably doomed her right from the start. So young and naive in a nest of vipirs that she never really had a chance at being queen for very long. The story is fascinating and well researched. Bits of historical truth mixed with bits of fiction create an engaging story. It's so complicated that sometimes I wonder how anyone knows what really happened. That does make for a thrilling suspenseful story, though. I recommend for anyone with an interest in Henry VIII and his wives. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a fantastic book.  It was rich,  complex, and beautiful.  Twin sisters discover they've inherited a large estate from their grand-mother they hardly knew and their father refused to discuss.   Nothing is as it seems and the trip the author takes us on is marvelous.
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This book is a great choice for those who like well-researched historical novels and mystery novels. Henry VIII and his life is a rich historical period that offers so many opportunities. The book is obviously well-researched and the author chooses to deviate from known history in logical and believable ways. Sure, this is a mystery novel so some suspension of disbelief is needed, but it is all plausible enough not to take you out of the story. I am buying this one for my mother, who is a huge fan of historical mysteries.
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This is a wonderful, wonderful story- part historical fiction, part mystery and part family drama.  Perdita and her twin sister Piper have been estranged from their maternal grandmother since the death of their mother, but find out that she has recently died and left them her stately manor as well as a financial fortune.  Their grandmother, Mary, was a famous historian and author and Perdita, in trying to learn more about her grandmother's life finds an unpublished manuscript about the life of Catherine Howard, one of the wives of King Henry VIII which hints at a secret life different from the one that has been portrayed by prior historians.  Then the book shifts into the life of Catherine Howard and teaches us a lot about her life and the court of Henry VIII.  Combining the two stories makes this an exceptional story and I applaud the author for her scholarship and her imagination.  I highly recommend this book.
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Thankyou to NetGalley, Sapere Books and the author, Alexandra Walsh, for the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of The Catherine Howard Conspiracy in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.
Do you, like me, love reading  Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Kate Mosse and Barbara Erskine? Then I highly recommend this novel.  It is one hell of a page turner.
I jumped at the chance to review this book when I read the premise of the storyline. It sounded so promising. And Ms Walsh certainly delivered.
This book was well thought out and written.  I was hooked from the opening chapter and was totally immersed into the story. There was mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing and the descriptiveness was amazing. You can certainly imagine being there within the pages as the stories unfold. I have already preordered my own copy and cannot wait for more. 
Definitely well worth a read. Highly recommended.
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Complex ~ Well-researched ~  Engrossing 
tl: dr: Terrible Henry VIII is lucky to have a new wife Catherine Howard, who unluckily is engrossed in a conspiracy. 

Imagine your favorite well-plotted thriller was set in Henry VIII's court. I know you might be imagining Dan Brown, but this is so much better written than that schlock. The book is more like Geraldine Brooks, with a contemporary person unwrapping a huge mystery. I love Catherine Howard, and Walsh does a great job giving Catherine voice. The story is convoluted and long, but this is a very compelling and surprising historical novel. Grab a copy if you love a page turner, a corset, or an aristocratic conspiracy. The author was new to me, and I was glad I gave her a chance. 

4.5 

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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