Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,213 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Illicit love, madness, betrayal—it isn't always good to be the queen.

Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to th...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Doomed Queens, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Doomed Queens

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle MoranCleopatra VII by Kristiana GregoryLily of the Nile by Stephanie DrayMemoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret GeorgeCleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Books about Cleopatra
17th out of 46 books — 106 voters
Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki LeónA Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans by Michael FarquharUppity Women of the Renaissance by Vicki LeónThe Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will CuppyDoomed Queens by Kris Waldherr
Biographical Sketches
5th out of 58 books — 20 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,831)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This fun little book detailing the lives - and more importantly deaths - of fifty queens. While the book does talk about Anne Boleyn and Maria Antoinette, you could also see some names almost swept away by history like Cleopatra's sister. Written with a wry sense of humor with multiple choice tests to quiz what the reader remembers and the odd anecdote here and there, this book can enchant the history buff.

Dec 07, 2009 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: friends, family
Recommended to Lauren by: Kris Waldherr
Shelves: gossip-guide
Check out DOOMED QUEENS...

The holidays are approaching, soon the weather will cool down, and there will be nothing you want to do more than lay around in your best gown, your necks and fingers dripping with opulence as you sip exotic hot teas and cocoas. When you find this time for yourself this month you need to have a copy in-hand of Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di .

It is the type of book that, as you approach those last pages you think, "oh my! How...more
Chantal E. R. H.
While I learned about some women I had never heard of before, I noticed some glaring inaccuracies in the chapters about some of the ones I had, most notably Queen Joan of Naples. The book was also a little too gimmicky and I'm not sure what age group it was intended for? I did like the author's drawings and the quotes she used from the Doomed Queens themselves. Some chapters were definitely better than others. The chapters on Cleopatra's sisters Berenice and Arsinoe being two of the better ones....more
Heather Domin
I loved this. Short, snarky, punchy, irreverent, all those others adjectives - I'm sure plenty of people trash it for that, the ones who can't bear to have history taken from its sacred pedestal and made relatable and humorous and relevant to (gasp!) pop culture. Whatever. I disagreed with a few bits of trivia (like Mary Boleyn's kids being Henry's bastards), but the writer clearly states in the intro AND the notes that, when faced with conflicting evidence, she went for the more salacious versi...more
Sue Smith
You've got to love a cover that show heads rolling! Sheesh!

Actually, it's a good indicator for the rest of the book - short and sweet blurbs about some of the queens that have met with a tragic end. Apparently there are a lot of them. And all met their demise in a variety of forms, usually era dependent.

This is more of a book of short facts - quick synopsis of the lives and times of some very fortunate - or unfortunate (depending on your outlook) - girls who got the opportunity to call themsel...more
Kris Waldherr’s book of “royal women who met bad ends” is a witty, fun look at the downside of being a female royal. I read the whole book in one sitting. This is a nice summary book of these 50 women. There are usually 2 pages devoted to each royal woman – and accordingly you don’t get an in-depth look at their lives – but you do get to know the important backstory that lead to their death. And their deaths are really what the whole book is about anyway.

This isn’t just a book for you to read, b...more
Christina Sesok
I absolutely adore this book. It has quick wit and a gallows sense of humor. Waldherr seems to mock the fate of these doomed queens while also providing readers with the facts. She also has brief digressions in the margins where she explains various aspects of the stories she's telling, outlines a small family tree, etc.

One of the things I like the most about this book is how brief each section is. Waldherr usually spends no more than three pages on each "doomed queen," and that's with pictures...more
An irreverent, lively written book on why no little girl should actually want to grow up to be queen. Waldherr manages to dig up queens who met grizzly ends from the biblical-era to the 20th century. She covers the well known, like Marie Antoinette, to the virtually unknown, like Cleopatra’s sister. I was surprised how many queens were killed by their own sons. Talk about ungrateful!

She gives a sympathetic, if brief, portrait of each royal lady, often giving modern day parallels to get across to...more
(I had this marked for the wrong book: Doomed Queen Anne instead of Doomed Queens, so this review is just a correction.) Not as good as I was led to believe or expected, this book covers the deaths and events leading to the deaths of queens and other female royalty over the centuries. Each queen is given only a page or two, so the history is very superficial. In addition, the flippancy which is meant to be humorous just doesn't work. A bit of interesting trivia, but I don't recommend it.
Julia Brumfield
This is my second Kris Waldherr book after having read "Sacred Animals" first. The two books carry the same artistic element where in "Sacred Animals" you could find some of the animals in their elemental introduction mural while in this book (if there was a portrait picture of the Queen) you could find the skeleton somewhere within the artwork. That is one of the things I enjoyed with these books.

The other thing is that I found the author has a way of bringing history to life even if it isn't...more
“Doomed Queens” is a clever little book about 50 royal women who met nasty ends. Some are famous ones, like Anne Boleyn or Marie Antoinette; but most of them are less notorious queens, who still led very intriguing – and tragic – lives. I really liked this book because it made me discover some very fascinating historical figures. I thought the queens in the first section were the most interesting ones, but over all I enjoyed the whole work.

The book is very short, less than 200 pages, so of cours...more
Jan 18, 2014 Kenya added it
very quick read, quirky yet informative.
This book was pretty neat. It is beautifully illustrated, has family trees, good advice, quizzes, and more. If you want to make learning history fun, then go pick up this book. It is good to know about the world.
Finished this only because I had paid for it. I thought it would be a trashy good read, but it was only trashy. Superficial and unfunny, labored prose, and quizzes, for gack's sake! Awful.
Disappointed, thought I was going to be reading something a little more depth. It was interesting for what it was.
Product Description
Kris Waldherr’s elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wif...more
We all know that when it comes to books that bring a bunch of interesting historical figures together in short, concise essays--there's not much deviation. You get a few interesting stories out of them and hopefully a little bit of accuracy. I can't say that Doomed Queens brings any new ground to the "genre". The familiar women like Marie Antoinette and Anne Boleyn get the same old treatment as the always do. Waldherr does bring a few lesser-known ladies--Thessalonike among them--to the forefron...more
A quick, easy read, Doomed Queens offers a light-hearted, tongue in cheek look at some of the world's female monarchs--and their (for the most part) untimely demises.

This book would have been far better had it been a tad longer. Each lady was given only 2 - 3 pages in which to detail her rise to power and her fall from it. It only served to whet my appetite to learn more about these women.

I also think the author--while striving for accuracy--plays a little fast and loose with history at times....more
I've always admired Kris Waldherr, specially as an illustrator. I own two tarot decks by her- Goddess and Lovers- and being a professional Tarot reader, have worked extensively with both. I also have her Book of Goddesses. I adore her style of drawing and what I knew of her writing was quite good, but I wasn't ready for how good this book is. Witty and fun, it gets to tackle a very sad and spine-chilling subject- the sad lives, doomed destinies and terrible deaths of many royal women from all ov...more
I really enjoyed this. It's a fun, fast read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys history. The language is a little casual at times, even for a laid-back look at women royalty, but it doesn't really detract from the book.

I liked the inclusion of the paper dolls, although I personally would have put them on perforated pages, instead of cutting the jacket flaps off. Yes, you CAN photocopy them onto cardstock, but the thought of defaced books out there....
The good: it introduced me to some historical figures that I had not previously been aware of.

It's brief but engagingly written bios piqué interest without boring.

The illustrations, methode de mort, and digression sections were good additions to the text. And I do love that the author drew many of the illustrations herself.

The bad: the narrative is often condescending and disdainful of the subjects, especially in the earlier sections.

The tone comes off distinctly anti-feminist. It feels like...more
This book is a cute coffee table book of info and facts about queens in history that had it tough. The author gives summaries on each, sometimes making the reader want even more from this was a great look at some doomed queens I didn't know about, however some of the 'facts' with Tudor queens was incorrect or didn't contain the whole story (as books and books can be written about these ladies) this does throw into perspective how accurate some of the other information on queens presented...more
Abby Lyn
I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. I read it in just a couple days. This book is a "guilty pleasure" type of read that is about history, rather than a true formal history of royal women. It is macabre and tongue-in-cheek, so the writing style is either something you like or you don't. I found the narration a lot of fun if a tad silly. I enjoyed the dark illustrations and "brief digressions" that accompanied each queen's biography chapter. And I liked the fact that I had never heard of many...more
I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and fast to read. It of course includes your usual suspects of Princess Diana, Cleopatra, and the Boleyn Wives but it also includes people that aren't as common and even eastern queens/rulers which is really nice! The reason it didn't get five stars is because her "treatment" of mental illness. In one part she says about Juana the Mad, that if she lived in today's society, a doctor would just through a handful of lithium at her and be done with it (I'm para...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

DOOMED QUEENS recounts the tales of numerous unfortunate queens.

Some of these women died unhappily in exile or imprisoned, while others met more unfortunate ends such as suicide or assassination.

Readers will meet over fifty queens who met their doom. The timeline of queens discussed range from the biblical era of Athaliah to modern day Princess Diana. They are arranged by time periods and drafted in short and often humorous biographical informati...more
If you are super serious about accurate and detailed historical non-fiction, then this book is not for you. HOWEVER, if you love juicy gossip about historical royal women, this is the book for you! This isn't your typical Disney Princess tale! The stories were based on gathered facts and rumors. Where there was a question of accuracy, then usually the more dramatic version was listed. The author does warn you in the very beginning, so don't get mad when you read something that you think is false...more
Quick vignettes of queens throughout history who met ignoble ends.

These stories are really short (usually only about 2 pages), but enough to get the gist of each queen. I liked that there were many lesser known stories.
Courtney Alston
I really want to say I loved this book... because I did, but depressing much? Between the murder and the syphilis there didn't seem to be a bright spot anywhere in there, which I know would kind of defeat the purpose but it didn't stop me from hoping.

Overall this book was pretty wonderful though, not a whole lot of happy times for the female population but that couldn't be expected considering the time period and being of the fairer sex. Really well written and despite me not being an avid histo...more
It's not easy being queen, as well we know from stories of Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette. Kris Waldherr recounts fifty tales of queens that met unfortunate endings, including Alexandra Romanov and Mary Stuart to some lesser known stories, such as Queen Anula from Sri Lanka who murdered four consorts, including two kings. Her end was met when she was trapped in the palace and set on fire.

Waldherr brings wry humor and funny anecdotes for each tale, as well as, artwork throughout. It's a great,...more
Katie Henderson
I enjoyed this book immensely. I recognized some of the doomed queens whose biography sketches were cleverly laid out by Kris Waldherr (Anne Bolelyn, Jane Grey, Catherine of Aragon, Princess Di), but I was delighted to meet more female rulers who met untimely ends. Boudicca, Berenice IV, Blanche of Bourbon (she was imprisoned for life in a tower! no, she didnt' have long hair)...

The style of writing is clever and witty. She usually opted for the more colorful versions historians offer about the...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 94 95 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire
  • In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory
  • A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
  • Sovereign Ladies: The Six Reigning Queens of England
  • Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty
  • Royalty's Strangest Characters: Extraordinary But True Tales from 2,000 Years of Mad Monarchs and Raving Rulers (Strangest series)
  • Mad Kings & Queens
  • Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
  • She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of Medieval England
  • Kings and Queens of England
  • Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs
  • Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens
  • Uppity Women of Medieval Times
  • Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana
  • The Ring and the Crown: A History of Royal Weddings 1066-2011
  • The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter
the short version:
Kris Waldherr is an author, illustrator, and designer whose art has been exhibited in the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is the author of Doomed Queens, The Lover’s Path and The Book of Goddesses, and creator of The Goddess Tarot. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

the long version:
I'm the author, illustrator and designer of numerous books including Doomed Queens, The Lov...more
More about Kris Waldherr...
The Book of Goddesses: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine Goddess Tarot Deck and Book Set The Lover's Path: An Illustrated Novel The Goddess Tarot Deck Persephone and the Pomegranate: A Myth from Greece

Share This Book

“The Executioner shall not have much trouble, for I have a little neck. I shall be known as La Reine Sans Tete” 4 likes
“Her unusual dark hair and sultry eyes made her stand out--- Anne Boleyn was Tudor England's Angelina Jolie amid a sea of Reese Witherspoons.” 0 likes
More quotes…