Cover Image: The Twilight Queen

The Twilight Queen

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Member Reviews

"The Twilight Queen: A King's Fool Mystery" by Jeri Westerson immerses readers in the intrigue and danger of Henry VIII's court, where court jester Will Somers finds himself embroiled in yet another gripping mystery. Set against the backdrop of Anne Boleyn's perilous reign as Queen of England, Westerson weaves a tale of suspense and treachery that keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. When a body is discovered in the queen's chamber, Will is tasked with unraveling the mystery surrounding the suspicious death, all while navigating the political machinations and rivalries that threaten to engulf the court. As tensions rise and further attacks occur, Will must use all his cunning and wit to uncover the truth before it's too late. With its rich historical detail and compelling characters, "The Twilight Queen" is a captivating addition to the King's Fool Mystery series, sure to delight fans of historical fiction and mystery alike. Jeri Westerson's masterful storytelling transports readers back in time to a world of intrigue, betrayal, and royal drama, making this novel a must-read for anyone fascinated by Tudor-era England.

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Jeri Westerson delivers another excellent and entertaining historical mystery. Well plotted, fun to read, a solid mystery and a well researched background.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I must say I only got through about a dozen pages and found this was just not a book I was enjoying. I wasn't that enamoured by the writing and I didn't find the way the main character was portrayed as to me it was a bit overdone and didn't fit properly for me.

So I have to say I didn't finish this book and I don't think I will read or request anymore books by this author.

Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

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This book wasn't what I expected. It was a little... not sure of the right word... less austere and formal than I was expecting. But it was very well done both in plot and character depth. Interesting historical story and good way of doing it.

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I have been a big fan of Jeri Westerson’s writing ever since I picked up my first Crispin Guest book many years ago, and she has never disappointed me. She always tells a great story with complex and interesting characters and goes all out with her research for her historical mysteries.

The Twilight Queen is the second book in her A King’s Fool mystery series. The main character in this series is Will Somers, Henry VIII’s jester—who was a real person, but Jeri adds to the character to flesh him out. Another KRL reviewer reviewed the first book in this series, Courting Dragons (you can click here to go read that review), but I will say I didn’t feel the least bit lost reading book two without having read the first one.

This book is set in London in 1536. The current Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, is in peril and calls on Will late at night for his help. There is the body of a man in her quarters, and she has no idea how it got there or who it is. Is someone trying to frame her? Her position in court is not good as Henry now has eyes for another, and some are not happy with how Anne became Queen. Will recently helped solve a murder, so that and the fact that she trusts him is why the Queen called on him for help. Though Will is now married and loves his wife dearly, he also has his own secrets to hide (though I loved how not from his wife)—he enjoys the company of men as well, and there is one new handsome courtier named Nicholas Pachett on the scene who has definitely caught his attention and vise versa. Were he to be caught…

Can Will once again save the day without losing his own life?

Jeri is masterful at bringing other time periods to life with such amazing accuracy and details—and yet not in a way that bogs things down or slows the pace of the mystery. She artfully blends real history with fiction. Last year my son was in a play called A Man For All Seasons about the way that Anne became Queen, so it was also fascinating for me to meet all these characters I had seen in the play.

As usual, Jeri doesn’t disappoint. She gives the reader a fascinating story, great characters, and a mystery filled with plenty of twists and turns. I loved the book, and adore Will. I especially loved his relationship with his wife and Nicholas and hope we get to see much more of that in the next book! I can’t wait to go back and read the first book!

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This is the first one of Jeri Westerson's books that I have read and am looking forward to reading more.

This will sound like damning with faint praise but is in no way meant to; how nice to have an American write an historic novel, set in England, who does not slip into American vernacular from time to time. Truth be told, not one word of the book jarred; such a delight.

If you like good Tudor historical faction, then this is a book for you.

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As a lover of all things Tudor, I thought this might be a little repetitive to other books I’ve read. I was so wrong. Written from a completely different viewpoint to anything I’d read before (Will Somers, court jester) you get a brilliantly clever perspective. The company of king and queen slides perfectly next to the company of servants and lowly court players. I loved it and will read the first one asap!

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Court Jester Will Somers is in the favor of King Henry VIII but Queen Ann Boleyn is falling out of favor after birthing Princess Elizabeth but miscarrying the next baby. Cromwell and others conspire against her. A musician strangled is found in her quarters. Will moves the corpse and promises her he will find the murderer. The court is a snake pit and Will is clever but not powerful. How will he find the murderer, stay loyal to the king and keep himself alive? Clever period mystery, The Twilight Queen.

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Unfortunately did not love this one :/ I read a biography of Will Somers in 2023 and was hopeful that this would build on that. It felt like a reductive attempt at histfic. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free advance copy.

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This is the second book in Jeri Westerson’s wonderfully entertaining series featuring Will Somers, the court jester for Henry VIII. At the center of the story is the murder of a musician whose body was discovered in Queen Anne’s chambers. Anne calls on Will to secretly remove the body and discover who was responsible for the murder and attempt to imply Anne’s unfaithfulness. Will knows that there are those at court who would love to see her downfall and Henry has already started courting Jane Seymour.

Will is devoted to Henry, even calling him Uncle. He is also devoted to Queen Anne and her daughter Bess. He walks a fine line as he mocks members of Henry’s court, paying special attention to Cromwell who he believes to be behind the effort to oust Anne. He is loved and supported by his wife Marion, the illegitimate daughter of a lord. When they married, she accepted Will’s attraction to other men.. When courtier Nicholas Pachett entered his life she became uncomfortable with the relationship. As Will puts himself in danger trying to find the murderer it gave Marion an opportunity to see how far Nicholas will go to help and protect him. While Will wants Nicholas in his life, Marion is his true love and he will always put her first, leading to her acceptance of Nicholas as a part of their family. Westerson’s story is an entertaining look at life at court and the ever changing moods and desires of Henry VIII. She brings her characters to life on the pages. You know that even though Will does his best to protect Queen Anne, it is only a matter of time until she will lose her head. I would like to thank NetGalley and Severn House for providing this book for my review.

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Felt like I was there.
So well written and descriptive. I loved the descriptions of the court and the gardens, the attention to detail is so engaging.
Will Simmer the fool, a valued member of court but often ignored as he is not of a high status. He is happily married to the resourceful Marion, but still has male lovers with her acceptance.
Will tries to do right by everyone and stay on the right side of the king, he sympathies with Anne Boleyn as she is out of favour with the king so when she asks him a favour, he is happy to help until he realises the repercussions.
Will becomes involved with a new member of the court Nicholas, but can be trust him?. As Will tries to find out the identity of the murderer he puts himself and his wife in danger, will Nicholas help him?
Thank you NetGalley and Her I for this entertaining romp.

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There are characters, whether real or imagined, who seem to get reinvented or reinterpreted for each generation. Henry VIII, that towering, looming figure of British history, with his outsized body and equally outsized personality – along with his fascinating and scandalous pursuit of a son and heir for his crown – seems to be one of those characters.

That his story – or rather the reinterpretation of his story through the characters of his six wives – has been reimagined yet again in the Tony Award winning Broadway play, Six: The Musical, is just the latest in a long line of portrayals, beginning with the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, written under the rule of King James I of England and VI of Scotland – a reign that could be said to be the direct result of Henry’s failure to secure a healthy male heir.

Which makes this portrayal of Henry, his court and his wives and paramours, as seen through the eyes of his Court Fool, Will Somers, just that much more fascinating and relevant, as it appears that this series is also going to trip its way through Henry’s nearly 40-year reign through the machinations of his court and his courtiers through each of his successive – but not all that successful – marriages.

The first book in this series, Courting Dragons, took place as Catherine of Aragon’s star at court was rapidly waning, and Anne Boleyn’s was on the ascendant.

In the midst of the King’s ‘Great Matter’, the impending divorce that severed not only Henry’s first marriage but also his country’s religion, a murder took place among the foreign diplomatic corps that threatened to destabilize the already fraught negotiations over, well, pretty much everything at that point.

A murder that was ultimately solved by a not-so-foolish investigation by the King’s Fool, Will Somers.

Just as that first murder of a Spanish diplomat had political implications for Catherine of Aragon, the murder that opens The Twilight Queen has potentially deadly implications for Anne Boleyn, whose brief, tumultuous reign is now in its twilight.

A dead musician has been discovered in the Queen’s private chambers. It’s obvious to Anne that the intent is to stir up rumors that she is unfaithful to her royal husband. A treasonous pot that someone influential at court is already stirring.

Because no good deed goes unpunished, when the Queen has need of a discreet investigator, she calls upon the King’s Fool to poke his nose into all the places he can to figure out who left this dead and potentially deadly ‘package’ in her private chambers – in the hopes that the truth will stave off her inevitable downfall.

Escape Rating B: Genre blends such as historical mystery are always a balancing act – much like Will Somers position is a balancing act between making his sovereign laugh, forcing his master to stop and think – and keeping both his job and his head.

For a historical mystery to be successful, it has to balance upon the knife edge of being true to its historical setting AND following the somewhat strict conventions of the mystery genre. It must allow the reader to maintain that crucial willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to history while still delivering that ‘romance of justice’ that is crucial to a mystery’s satisfactory ending.

As much as I love this particular period of history, this series so far reads like it tilts more than a bit towards the description and details of the historical setting. Not that the mystery doesn’t get solved, but rather that the mystery feels more like an excuse to dive into the history instead of the historical period being a setting for a mystery.

Reflecting on this second book in the series, I believe that impression is a result of Will Somers’ life and work being so far removed from ordinary life either in his time or our own. Even Crispin Guest, the protagonist of the author’s Medieval Noir series, feels like more of a standard archetype, as he’s operating as a kind of private investigator in a big city. Even though the details of his circumstances are even a century or two before Somers, what Guest does and the way he does it – and how he feels about it – reads as something surprisingly familiar.

Will Somers’ dependence on and love of his ‘master’ the King, on the other hand, jars a bit in the 21st century mind whether it rings true or not. A kind interpretation of their relationship would liken it to the relationship between Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings – except that Frodo couldn’t order Sam’s head to be struck off. Will Somers’ relationship with his king reads a bit too close to the so-called ‘love’ of slaves for their masters in the antebellum South. It’s not comfortable, no matter how fascinating a character Somers has turned out to be.

Which he most definitely is.

In the end, I found the history behind this story more interesting than the mystery within its pages. Your reading mileage, of course, may vary. I am, however, still terribly curious about the next book in this series, which is planned to take place during Henry’s brief but fruitful marriage to Jane Seymour, tentatively titled, Rebellious Grace.

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Three and a half stars. Took a while to get going, the tory of a sleuthing Court jester during the reign of Henry VIII. I enjoyed reading historical novel from a different perspective - usually its the monarch/wife/lawyer, but the story just fell a bit flat for me. Enjoyable on the whole and thanks to Net Galley for the advanced copy.

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Will Somers is court jester at Henry VIII's court. He is supports Henry's newest queen, Anne Boleyn, but he also misses Queen Catherine, Henry's first wife. When a body is found in Queen Anne's bedchamber, he thinks it is an effort to condemn the queen so Henry can marry Jane Seymour, the current mistress. He sneaks the body out into the gardens and begins investigating the murder. Will is deeply suspicious of Thomas Cromwell, Henry's Lord Privy Seal, who strongly supports the English Reformation and the abolition of the Catholic church. Everyone at court is a suspect, so Will has his work cut out for him. Excellent research, recommended if you enjoy historical mysteries.

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Will Somers is the fool or court jester to King Henry 8th, and has an unusual position of trust and freedom of speech to his master.
The year is 1536, Anne Boleyn is Queen and mother to the Princess Elizabeth who is 3 years old, but there is no male heir, and the King’s attention is wandering to Jane Seymour. Anne is fearful of experiencing the same ignominy of being abandoned for a younger rival, and there are many plots swirling about her person.
This story deals with the many dangers that surrounded Anne in the last few months of her life. When a dead body is found in her apartment, Anne asks Will Somers to move the body to stop her come under suspicion, which he does, but then the mystery of who was the deceased, and why the guards didn’t notice such an event, all build into a satisfying mystery.
The story is told from the point of view of a servant, one who evidently had a good relationship with his King, so much that he is in a royal portrait. We are told that Will was married and also had relationships with men at court, this was news to me, but added a certain interest to the sexual morals of this Tudor court.
I loved the language of the time and the uniqueness of being a story about the hidden part of life at court, namely the servant and his world, full of secrets and back stabbing in order to get and keep in favour, it was such a dangerous place to live and have an opinion.
It was so different from other stories about this era, and the glossary was comprehensive and very instructive. Highly recommend this to other fans of the Tudor, eagerly awaiting the next in this series.

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I felt this mystery was pretty slow going.I kept with it however due to the Will Sommer character and the ambience and atmosphere of the Tudor court.It definitely puzzled me right up until the end but I actually have no idea if I couldn't keep the characters straight or the story itself lost me somewhere.I was also rather taken aback at the culprit as I've always thought this person was seriously sketchy since Cromwell entered the scene.Not sure I would continue the series but it was an interesting concept nonetheless.

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The Twilight Queen is Anne Boleyn now facing the same treatment from her husband that she herself heaped upon her predecessor.
To add to this a dead musician is discovrred in her apartments. Not something that will endear her to Henry. This is why our hero, Will Somers sets about discovering who is behind this plot.
Will also happens to be Henry’s secretly
bi jester. Not exactly a common scenario but one surprisingly easy to read. I found I quite enjoyed it.

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I thank NetGalley and Severn House for an advance reader copy of “The Twilight Queen.” All opinions and comments are my own.

Henry VIII’s Jester -- Will Somers -- is still trying to entertain his monarch, and keep him happy (this is book two in the series). And still trying to juggle his own, shall we say, colorful love life, which occupies a large portion of the narrative of “The Twilight Queen.”

To occupy the rest of his time, he has a mystery on his hands; someone has left a dead man in Queen Anne Boleyn’s quarters, and the queen has implored Will to sort it all out and save her reputation, which has already started its downward trajectory. That Will does this is pretty much a given, but how he does it and the trouble he encounters along the way showcases author Jeri Westerson’s ability to spin a clever story of the machinations involved in “a conspiracy to put the queen in disfavor,” as the book has it.

“The Twilight Queen” conjures up the terror and anxiety beneath the surface exceedingly well, as forces attempt to bring down the king’s wife for another -- yet again. Included are real historical figures; “Nan Bullen,” the King, our Will, the master manipulator Cromwell, alongside others, making up a complete and complex plot. An Author’s Note explains the truth and the real history behind the story. Jeri Westerson takes the tenor of the times and turns it into a real mystery, fraught with secrets and filled with gifted characterization and plotting once again.

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Greenwich Palace is a Tudor palace full of glamour, intrigue, and murder. A musician has been found murdered in the chambers of the current wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn. Only one person can solve this crime while protecting the royal family. No, he is not a knight or a lawyer, but a fool. No, an actual fool or jester of the court of Henry VIII, Will Somers. A man who is loyal to his king Henry VIII, but can he save his second wife from the murderer lurking in the shadows? Jeri Westerson’s Will Somers follows the clues to uncover the truth to protect those who are the most important to him in book two of A King’s Fool Mystery series, “The Twilight Queen.”

I would like to thank Severn House and Net Galley for sending me a copy of this novel. I have not read any of Jeri Westerson’s previous novels, including the first book of the A King’s Fool Mystery series, so I was going into this one completely blind. What caught my eye about this book was the concept that Will Somers, a character who is not featured much in Tudor novels, acts as an armchair detective trying to protect Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

This mystery takes place in April 1536, when Anne Boleyn is nervous that her husband has lost interest in her and has chosen his next bride. To make matters worse, she comes back from a night of revelry to find a dead body in her chambers. What can a queen do but call on a man who recently solved a murder mystery, Will Somers, her husband’s fool.

Will Somers is a complex character. He tries to balance keeping his monarch entertained while speaking his mind about those closest to the king, especially Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn. Will is married to Marion Greene, the illegitimate daughter of the Yeoman of the Records, Lord Robert Heyward, whom he loves, but Somers has his affairs with men at court, like his lover in this book, Nicholas Pachett.

While I did enjoy the characters of Will, Marion, and Nicholas, I felt that the whole love triangle situation distracted me from the actual mystery. There were a lot of good ideas, but it felt a bit rushed in a 250-page novel. Some elements made it feel a bit too modern than Tudor for my taste. Overall, I think some elements could be better, but I did feel attached to the main characters of Will, Marion, and Nicholas.

I think as my first dive into Westerson’s Tudor world, it was a bit rushed with compelling characters, but I do want to go back and read the first book in this series as well as see what kind of mystery Westerson will come up with next for Somers to solve. I think if you want an unconventional Tudor mystery that has an unlikely sleuth as the protagonist, you should check out “The Twilight Queen” and A King’s Fool mystery series by Jeri Westerson.

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