The second monarch of the Tudor dynasty gets his wolf on in 16th-century London.
Yes, it’s another literary sideshow attraction, this time from journalist Moorat (Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, 2009), who has a freewheeling infatuation with letting demons loose on the British Royal Family. The novel opens on an already-transformed Henry VIII, all feral senses and blood lust, pounding toward his castle to devour a Queen. But which one of his lordship’s ill-fated brides is about to feel the fatal bite of her husband’s ravenousness? To find out, Moorat hurls the reader back a few bygone years. In one of the few turns from the King’s true history, Katherine of Aragon has finally borne Henry a son, Prince George. But in horrible moments, a band of Wolfen led by the malevolent Malchek has torn through the castle, devouring the child, infecting Henry and earning his kingly wrath. Following is a whole lot of nonsense about shape-shifting demons from ancient Greece at war with mankind and each other, not to mention the interference of the Holy Church of Rome and its demon-hunting arm, the Pretektorate, who are in league with Henry’s advisor, Sir Thomas More. There are some fun moments, especially for followers of Henry’s bloody history, either historical or Showtime’s over-the-top soap-operatic version. But there’s also a jarring clash between the savagery of the ‘horrid bits,’ the Python-esque humor of the supporting cast (there’s even a “Graham the Wolfman,” who jousts with an agitated More) and Henry’s dubious embrace of his lupine condition. “He was drunk. He was a wolf. Life was good,” Moorat proclaims during Henry’s first joyful, intoxicated romp through the woods. Things get increasingly serious as the narrative leaps toward a massive engagement between Henry’s army and a hairy army of invaders, with Lady Jane Seymour in the mix. Whether readers will find barmy fun or a load of bollocks will largely swing on their affection for this particular transgression into royal history.
A right royal howler, in more ways than one.