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3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  802 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
Destined for greatness; tormented by demons… VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is tormented by the ghosts of his family's violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination. In VIII, ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Templar Books (first published April 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,199)
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Kirsty (overflowing library)
If I had to think of how to sell this book I would describe it as being along the lines of the Tudor TV series but toned down to be more suitable for a YA audience. I enjoyed every page and thought it was a prime example of how YA historical fiction should be written.

I do get quite a bee in my bonnet whe it comes to YA historical fiction. I get sent a lot of it for review because I am a history teacher and I have found of late that some of the stuff out there is just too weighty and too boring t
I'm still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me.

We all know the story of Henry VIII, the man who left a string of ruined women in his wake in his quest for a son, the huge man staring out from the famous portrait, the man who caused Britain to be torn apart in religious conflict to divorce his wife. But at one point, that man was a boy. A boy who was never supposed to be king, a boy who only wanted to be a knight, a boy who loved his mother. What happened to that boy to turn him int
Kristin Taggart
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!

(Description nicked from B&

“Hal is a young man of extraordinary talents, astonishing warrior skills, sharp intelligence, and a fierce sense of honor and virtue. He believes he is destined for greatness. His father wishes he would disappear. Haunted by the ghosts of his family’s violent past, Hal embarks on a journey that leads him to absolute power—and brings him face to face with his demons.”

I have an odd fascination with British his
Oct 19, 2014 Kara rated it liked it
Shelves: tudor-fiction
Castor takes the currently popular theory that Henry VIII was insane and runs with it to tell Henry’s whole life for Henry’s own POV.

What is here is good – put overall it feels as though it is missing some pieces. The story skips over a few significant parts of his story in order to cram all 55 crazy years in there. On the one hand, it makes sense towards the end as he really starts to go over the deep end, but on the other hand, it feels rushed and again, like parts were left out.

What was good
Jan 22, 2012 Aprille rated it it was amazing
I wandered into Big W tonight, with 20 minutes to find a book.

After wading through the miles of wasted paper in their book section, I came up with this:

Dear Big W,

YA fiction does not automatically mean 'paranormal romance'.

I want to read something GOOD.

Finally I found VIII (which, I've now figured out, is the number 8). I picked it up, read the blurb, flicked open a few pages and decided to buy it.

I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. I finished this in a few hours, accompanied
Feb 06, 2013 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alamw13
I got this book free at ALA Midwinter.

I have to say that I whipsawed back and forth and back again with this book. When I first picked it up I was giddy, elated, crazy to have it in my hand. I'm a bit of a Tudor fan, you see, and this sounded so wonderful I could hardly wait to get home and crack it open.

Then I started it and it was... first person? Present tense? Really? Ack. (I'm going to hate this book, I think.)

But there was Elizabeth of York. And that precious boy, talking in a voice that
Sep 28, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess a lot of readers are fascinated by the Tudor family, myself included. This is a great way to get an insider view of the dramatic sixteenth century in England, when one man's megalomania changed history. Castor starts with Henry in his youth, when he was a handsome, skilled warrior, frustrated in his role as the second son. Henry believes fervently that he is destined to rule as one of England's greatest kings. At seventeen years-old, he gets his chance.

The focus on his youth, filled with
Aug 03, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book,not only for the wonderfully woven story but also for all it taught me of a period of history that I love. The story was so accessible and the characters so well drawn. The visions Henry kept seeing gave the book a real sinister and spine-tingling tone which really captured the imagination. A real page turner that I really didn't want to put down-a fabulous read!
Stacie (MagicOfBooks)
I will also do a video review here at my channel:

"VIII" by H.M. Castor tells the story of a young boy named Hal who is haunted by the ghosts of his family's violent past. Though his older brother is next in line to become king, Hal is planning his own course to restore the glory of England. And he is destined to become one of England's most notorious kings---King Henry VIII.

Not many authors of historical fiction focus on Henry VIII. Most authors focus on the s
Apr 28, 2016 Kamryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I first became enamored with the story of Henry VIII when I read a book about one of his daughters, Elizabeth, in the fourth grade. And yet, the only real mental picture I had of this notorious king was that infamous painting of him standing there in four hundred pounds of robes. Not exactly charming.

I read this novel in one sitting after my friend–who has an opinion of books that I greatly trust–told me, “I have never gone from cheering for a character to wanting him to have a slow, excruciatin
3.5/5-the ending really lifted this one.

Source: Received an e-ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Tudor period is one of my favorite times in history and once about which there is a plethora of material. And yet this look at Henry VIII from childhood to death still seemed unique enough to stand out and be worthy of a read.

After finishing, I feel like I received a lot from this book. It is interesting to see how Henry's childhood shapes his future particularly with this fir
Bella (Cheezyfeet Books)
Oct 29, 2011 Bella (Cheezyfeet Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-releases
I didn't know much about Henry VIII, apart from that he had six wives and he was fat. I didn't know the order of the wives, only that they were divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Now that I've read VIII though, I feel like I know a lot more.
I haven't read many historical novels, but I love them so much. It doesn't matter what time period, any time will do for me! VIII was probably one of the better ones I have read, because it was so informative and I learned so much about
Keith Smith
Sep 10, 2011 Keith Smith rated it it was amazing
This is by far the most enjoyable book I have read for a long time. The publishers say it is for the crossover market ie teens to adult, and it would certainly please either teen or adult. It is in essence the life of Henry Viii as seen through his eyes. That is twist enough, but the fact that he is haunted by his family history makes this a visceral and gripping story indeed. ‘Surprisingly scary’ Charlie Higson called it. He is certainly right.

The fact that Harriet is what I call a proper histo
Sep 20, 2012 Jasmine rated it liked it
The beginning really captured me; it was mystical, medevil but at the same time relateable. In fact, I've got no problems whatsoever with the first half, or the first book if you will. But once I got into the second half/second book, I felt as though it would have functioned far better as a sequel, and if I had the option of borrowing them separately, I may have been entirely satisfied with the first and not bothered reading the extension. As it was, I found the second half to be less captivatin ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
I loved all the history involved in this book about Henry the 8th. I was fascinated to see how he grew up since we know what he did when he was king and how many wives he had. I loved seeing how he was treated by his mother and father who both were affected by the War of the Roses. The way him and his brother Arthur treated each other growing up and the love Henry showed Catherine after Arthur died really caught my attention. If only Henry would have been happy with Catherine in the end and not ...more
Kenzie K.
Sep 14, 2014 Kenzie K. rated it liked it
Very interesting book, but the dialogue hurts. Henry the VIII isn't going to say "By the way" or "Seriously?" any more than I'm going to say "thou" or "doth."
3.5 Stars... Interesting but not particularly riveting. I also felt that it was a bit rushed, and wish more time had been devoted to details and transitions.
Nov 22, 2015 Bridgett rated it really liked it
The book starts out with Henry VIII as a young boy being whisked away to the Tower of London while his father is defending his throne against an impersonator of one of the young princes that were lost in the Tower years before. It's a little awkward at first because the author writes the book in first person, and I am not used to reading large stories this way. It took a bit of getting used to. Also the book is aimed toward a younger audience, so the chapters can be extremely short. With a book ...more
Lauren Fidler
you want to know why there are so few historical fiction novels featuring henry viii as a first person protagonist?

because, on paper, he was kind of a dick.

look, when you know the punchline - that he was married more times than a kardashian and that he offed two of his exes (at least), cast away two others, and was faithful to none - you have an impossible problem ahead of you.

how do you make the character charming enough to buy that six women would risk their lives to be his lover?

this book doe
I picked this book up because I was looking for a way to dive a little deeper into the life of King Henry VIII without the tedium and length of a nonfiction book. Frankly, I knew he had beheaded two of his wives and separated England from the Catholic Church but that was about all I knew.

H.M. Castor’s VIII definitely gave me insight into Henry’s life. I enjoyed the thought and story that went into why Henry was the way that he was; the haunting by the young boy was a great thread through the who
Bethany Richter Voight
VIII. Henry the 8th. One of my absolute favorite personalities in all of history. I love the Tudor era so I was expecting great things from a YA perspective of this conflicting man.

The first half is awesome. I could have done without the ghostly boy bits, but it adds allure for a teen. Castor really took her time with setting up Henry's childhood and formative years. Too often in a fictional biography, the younger years receive little attention. I was captivated by Henry's relationship with his
Feb 25, 2015 Madeleine rated it liked it
Shelves: tudors, history
What a disappointment this ended up being! I loved the concept...examining the roots of what caused Henry VIII's erratic and often contradictory behavior. Castor adopts a newly popularized conceit that Henry VIII was simply born, predisposed, to be crazy and paranoid and runs with it. The first half of this book is excellent: well-written, vivid with characterization. She makes a good argument for her characterization of Henry and explored his relationship of his father in a new and interesting ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: English history fans, esp Tudor history
This was really impressive. It lost that last star for being hazy on dates and ages. I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how old Henry VIII was at most chapters. It basically wants to answer the question: what turned Henry into such a horrible person later on in life? Some fascinating encounters with his parents are listed that could well have warped the young VIII. I was not convinced by some of this: namely that he was that shocked and disillusioned when various rulers broke tre ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Kristina rated it really liked it
An intriguing look inside the mind of Henry VIII. The author examines a possible explanation for why he acted in the way he did - a growing delusion based on a childhood misconception. It is interesting to note how the child he was, a second son with only a will to please his father, changed into the power corrupted King.
The author has thoroughly researched this period and all the details of King Henry's life so the only fiction is in her interpretation of his thoughts and motives. To this end i
Dec 07, 2015 Esther rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have a number of problems with this book. One is that the author takes a very modern approach to the question of what made Henry VIII tick (in this case, she sees him as a sociopathic narcissist). That isn't necessarily a problem, except that her Henry responds as a modern person, which he most definitely was not.

Another is that her Henry is pretty one-dimensional. Having decided that he was a narcissist, she doesn't bother to develop any sort of nuance to him at all. It reads as if every sce
Jan 26, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
VIII by H. M. Castor
Simon & Schuster, 2013
Historical Fiction
432 pages
Recommended for grades 8+

If you're like me, and many students we have might be, the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Henry the 8th is: the famous portrait of a portly man with a plumed hat of some kind, a number of wives, and a number of them dead. Pathetic, I knew nothing of this legendary king.
VIII opens when Henry, Hal, is only a young boy. Readers spend the majority of this lengthy novel getting to know Hen
Sylvia Shults
Mar 14, 2016 Sylvia Shults rated it it was amazing
He was the most powerful man in England, with armies and countless citizens under his control. He could have any woman he chose. And he was a teenager. This is a look at Henry the Eighth, through his own very flawed eyes.

What a ferocious book! This novel reads like the twisted diary of a spoiled, moody teenager … a teenager with the power of life and death over those around him. And to make his precarious mental health even worse, Henry keeps seeing the ghost of a murdered boy at stressful momen
Elizabeth Moffat
Apr 17, 2012 Elizabeth Moffat rated it liked it
This is the story of the infamous Henry VIII, known as "Hal" for the YA market. I didn't realise this was a YA novel but it did not prevent my enjoyment of it and it would probably be a three and a half star rating if I could. Quite an entertaining account of Henry although I did feel it was slightly rushed at the end with the wives. But hey, he did get through a fair few of them!
Jun 16, 2015 Mia rated it liked it
This book kind of freaked me out! Not so much that I couldn't read it, but enough that I did not want to read it at night. I understand how some people were upset about the modern diction. It made the book more accessible to modern teens, but also jerked me out the story because it was too modern. I also can understand how some people felt that the second half of the book went too quickly. There were 200 ish pages until the end of the book when Henry first sees Anne Boleyn; I thoughts hat the he ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this new, haunting take on the familiar story of Henry VIII. The first half was excellent covering Henry's early life but I felt as though the second half tried to cover too much ground and I'd have preferred more detail of his later marriages even if it meant a sequel!
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