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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,041 ratings  ·  218 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 plagued 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.

H.M. Castor does for Henry what Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwel
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published April 1st 2010)
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Shelly It is all fairly PG
Not very violent - there are a couple of battle scenes but nothing described with too much gore.
Henry frequently sees a vision of a…more
It is all fairly PG
Not very violent - there are a couple of battle scenes but nothing described with too much gore.
Henry frequently sees a vision of a ghost, that could be a bit scary.
There are no sex scenes - although the boys make some lewd comments about Catherine of Aragon.
Miscarriage is mentioned often.(less)
Bobbi The numeral demarcates that he is the eighth of his name so it is pronounced "The Eighth".…moreThe numeral demarcates that he is the eighth of his name so it is pronounced "The Eighth".(less)

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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,041 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Oh, to get one’s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your innards when you’d got it down.
~C.S. Lewis, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” (emphasis mine)

A vibrant mix of historical fiction, horror, and abnormal psych, VIII is on every level a success.

Jump inside the head of little Prince Hal, hiding
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 i
Ryn Lewis
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Young Hal is the spare son, unnoticed, unloved and unnecessary beside his elder brother Arthur, who will someday be the king. Yet Hal is robust and charismatic, charming people and attracting attention wherever he goes. When as a young boy, he hears a prophecy that states York will be King, he is certain he has found his destiny. So begins H.M. Castor’s tale of Henry VIII from his innocent boyhood through his rise to power and his passion for two things: an Empire and sons. Through intensive res ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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 history
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-tudors
I've always had this weird fascination with King Henry VIII's story for some reason and loved to learn about his era and the Tudor family. I'm finally getting hooked on the Tudors on Netflix and also had already read three out of six of Philippa Gregory's Cousins War series (White Queen) so I was glad I was already familiar with some names at the beginning of VIII.
I really enjoyed reading in Henry's point of view in first person and neat to wonder what he was probably thinking and how he became
Forget the Henry VIII that you know, king and tyrant this is Henry VIII the spoiled brat.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book an interesting story of Henry the VIII from the time he was a child to the monster he became by the end of his life. Hal's voice telling the story is really interesting because it tells how a boy became something so very horrible. The was interesting the beginning flowed very but the later parts of the story were rushed because there is over 50 years of history to put in it. So overall I thought this was a likable book. ...more
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
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
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
The copy for VIII states that it will do "for Henry what Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell - VIII is Wolf Hall for the teen and crossover market." I don't dispute that VIII most certainly introduces the life of VIII, but I have definite misgivings about the novel.

Key amongst these is the pacing of the novel. Over half of VIII tackled the early life of Henry and his marriage to Catherine, after the death of his brother. The remaining half showed the rest of his reign and the other five wives.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kamryn Koble
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura Mitchell
I struggled with this book. I enjoy the topic, but the premise was a little odd, that being that Henry VIII was haunted/tormented by something only he could see, and which only appeared at certain significant times of his life. But these times were significant in odd ways, not so much what history remembers about Henry VIII (or what he might have wanted history to remember about him). The significance is revealed at the very end of the book, and has the result of a cliff hanger. Not enough histo ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Mother kindly gave this to me when I was on a history kick, literature wise. It's the story of King Henry VIII, who's life is well known to anyone who paid attention in basic History. This book is simply retelling his life with an added twist called a prophecy. I'll be honest, I didn't care for this book, I enjoyed it and the end was ok but Henry descent into how he is brutally known was less than interesting. I'll probably donate this instead of adding to my read-shelf ...more
Beth (bibliobeth)
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! ...more
Mar 10, 2013 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! ...more
Just realised this was an accidental re-read when I came to add it to Goodreads after finishing it - whoops! Oh well.
I got 200 pages into this and just had to set it aside. I found the story repetitive and plodding. Only for those who are fascinated by Tudor England and Henry VIII.
mackenzie knoll
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." ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I honesty would give this novel a 2.95 out of 5 stars. I recently just got a promotion at work, so I haven’t been reading as much as I would like. I bought this novel a while back in a Bookoutlet book-haul. I have always been very interested in history since! Henry the 8th has always fascinated me, he’s cunning, ruthless, his marriages and their endings are all so interesting. I bought this novel because first it’s history and second it’s YA. I’m not sure if I just had too much hope for this nov ...more
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Fiction about Henry VIII from childhood [s] 4 13 Aug 20, 2016 07:09PM  
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H.M. Castor is an accomplished writer and historian who had her first book published when she was fourteen years old. She studied history at Cambridge University and has always been fascinated by the story of Henry VIII. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Bristol, England.

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