Review: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Monday, October 19, 2015
Title: Anne & Henry
Author: Dawn Ius
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 305
Published: September 1, 2015
Source: Publisher via edelweiss
Rating: 1 out of 5

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.
Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Justice For Katherine 2K15

The story of Henry VIII and his six wives is a well known and tragic one. It's also tantalizingly juicy. I'll be the first to admit, my shelf for Tudor non-fiction is titled "gossip rags" for precisely this reason. Love, sex, affairs, murder, Henry had it all. So I can absolutely see the thought process behind a modern, high school update to the story.

Henry Tudor is the only remaining son to a wealthy dynasty family. Since his brother's death, he's been groomed to take Arthur's place as head young Republican. He's got an in with the Mayor, an internship lined up with a senator, and Harvard on speed dial. And yet...,

At a masquerade his mother is throwing in honor of their wealthy society friends, Henry blows off his (hand picked by mother) girlfriend, Katherine Aragon, when he glimpses a beautiful and mysterious newcomer. She's Anne Boleyn, a girl from the wrong social class, only invited because her gold-digging mother has grasped onto a talented architect, (I think I missed that part of history class.) Katherine, enraged at the snub, sets out to make the new girl's life hell.

Katherine of Aragon's character has been so murdered, so bastardized, and treated so badly, I suggest her descendants look into civil suit. Henry's first queen was a gracious, pious Catholic with immense ties to other European royalty. That's why it was so hard for Henry to divorce her. Not only was she beloved by the commons, but you might recognize her parents? Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain? (In this book, cast as a senator's campaign manager. Not senator. Manager.) How about her cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor? Not people you piss off on a whim. Not to mention the way she handled herself after Henry's father turned out to be a total snake and her parents were all, "whatcha gonna do?" and she had to sell her crap to support herself and her maids.

So of course Ius has decided to cast her as a bitchy cheerleader only with Henry for the status boost.

Not that Anne fares much better. The real woman was educated with Margaret of Austria and served in her and Henry's sister, Mary's, households. Thomas Boleyn was a diplomat and a favorite of Henry's father. None of this points to "girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a motorcycle". And while I'd hate to spoil anything about this book, let's just say that George Boleyn is a real person and really important and the decision to completely erase him from modernAnne's history is bizarre.

Anne and Henry immediately fall into lust with one another. Not a page goes by where the author doesn't remind of how hot they think the other is. Usually via Anne's "mutant pterodactly wings in [her] stomach". Or that time her "chest hurts, as though someone's using me as a bench press". Though he's still dating Katherine, Henry spends every waking moment with or thinking about Anne. This does not go unnoticed by the cardboard character bearing Katherine's name, so she decides to go full on Legally Blonde and invite Anne to a murder mystery party. As a prostitute. So she shows up in full stripper costume.

Finally seeing the light, Henry leaves Katherine and cleaves to Anne. (Not Anne of Cleves, that relationship didn't seem to make it into the final book.) This goes well for approximately 11 seconds, until a drunk driving accident, because at this point historical what now?

Katherine unleashes her final evil plan, pretending to befriend Anne. She then throws another party, that Anne decides to go to because it's not like alcohol or parties have gone badly before, and surprise! It's a trap! Katherine's friends get Anne ungodly drunk, sexually assault her, and send staged pictures to Henry. Henry, who can't believe what he's seeing could possibly be true, immediately believes these people who have been lying and manipulating him all book, because...because.

Henry starts pulling away, causing Anne to go full bunny boiler in the middle of an important dinner party, sealing her fate. Henry immediately starts macking on a barista named Jane, there's a sham of a student trial, and after some forced symbolism, Anne is expelled.

The biggest issue with the book, beyond the complete butchering of Anne and Katherine's characters, is Henry himself. By the end of the party, he's completely villainous, yet as a POV character, the book continues to try and play him for sympathy. Even being in his head, his decision to flip on Anne after the accident never made sense. Everything after that was just insulting.

And yes, he calls male rape victims weak. Spoiler tags both for spoilers and triggers. In a moment of vulnerability, Anne describes how her sister's boyfriend spread false rumors that they slept together, causing her bad reputation and ultimately forcing her to switch schools. In addition, Mary attempted suicide and had to be institutionalized after Jesse "told her I took advantage of him that night." Henry's only reply to this horrible accusation? "Because he was so fucking weak?" That's right, Jesse could only have been raped if he was weak. Since he was strong, Mary should have known he was lying.

There was one history joke that made me smile, possibly the only thing that did in the entire book. "Everything you know about me is a lie" I widen my eyes in mock horror. "My name's not even Henry."

That's a cute nod to the actual person! If there was more writing like that..well, there's not.

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