I have a confession to make. I have the biggest historical crush on King Henry VIII. I know he had two of his wives beheaded and treated his daughters as if they weren't his own, but I can't help remaining in awe of his legacy. I even follow a parody account on Twitter, own countless books telling of his reign, and as I type this, there's a Henry VIII mug on my desk holding my pens. I've got it bad (it probably helps that Jonathan Rhys Meyers played the infamous royal in "The Tudors"—swoon). So when "Gilt" by Katherine Longshore made its way into my hands, I was beyond thrilled. A YA novel taking place in his majesty's court? I'm sold!
"Gilt" follows Kitty Tylney and Catherine Howard, best friends who live together in the Dowager Dutchess of Norfolk's home. Abandoned by her family and left with no title to help her find a suitable husband, Kitty owes everything she has and is to Cat. Cat is the classic mean girl (even back then they existed). She's beautiful, ambitious, manipulative and will stop at nothing to flirt and charm her way into the royal court, promising to bring Kitty with her.
As the self-proclaimed Queen of Misrule, it doesn't take Cat long to work her way into the palace and King Henry's heart, becoming his fifth wife and Queen of England. Now in a place of true power, her vow comes to fruition and Kitty comes to work in her chamber. The Tudor Court scoops Kitty up in a whirlwind of lavish dresses, luxurious living quarters, lies, betrayal and passion as she must choose between William—the thoughtful, selfless, blond boy with the crooked grin who she won't admit she loves—and Edmund, the mysterious and potentially dangerous man she knows from a haunting past.
But becoming queen doesn't mean Cat will give up her old, mischievous ways—she is only a teenager, after all. Between the loose lips of her old lover and an addiction to the threateningly handsome Thomas Culpepper she's unwilling to shake, Cat's slowly losing control of the perfect life she'd always dreamed. And if Cat loses the love and protection of Henry VIII, she could lose her very head, knocking Kitty's off along the way.
In a time where dystopians rule the literary court, Katherine Longshore reminds readers that our history is filled with excitement, drama and titillating romance if only we take a glance at our past. As an avid Tudor enthusiast (can you tell?), I know how this story ends. But Katherine manages to retell the tale of my least favorite of Henry's six wives in such a unique and captivating way, it usurped my attention and seized my mind. It's a royal read for those with a love of the romanticized era and those who never gave the time period a thought outside of European history class.
Imagine my giddy delight when I found out it's merely the first book in a saga following three girls in King Henry VIII's court. I believe I found my new favorite series. You can pick up a copy on May 15 and see for yourself why I couldn't put the book down.
Will you read "Gilt"? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!