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The Light in the Labyrinth

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A Queen fights for her life.
A King denies his heart and soul.
A girl faces her true identity.
All things must come to an end—all things but love.

IN THE WINTER OF 1535, fourteen-year-old Kate Carey wants to escape her family home. She thinks her life will be so much better with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the aunt she idolises. Little does Kate know that by going to attend Anne Boleyn she will discover love and a secret that will shake the very foundations of her identity. As an attendant to Anne Boleyn, Kate is swept up in events that see her witness her aunt’s darkest days. By the time winter ends, Kate will be changed forever.

336 pages, Paperback

First published October 25, 2014

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About the author

Wendy J. Dunn

10 books186 followers
WENDY J. DUNN is an award-winning Australian writer fascinated by Tudor history – so much so she was not surprised to discover a family connection to the Tudors, not long after the publication of her first Anne Boleyn novel, which narrated the Anne Boleyn story through the eyes of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that one of her ancestral families – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally. Wendy is married, the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of two amazing small boys. She gained her PhD in 2014 and loves walking in the footsteps of the historical people she gives voice to in her books. Wendy also tutors writing at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Henry VIII’s True Daughter: Catherine Carey, A Tudor Life is her first full-length nonfiction work.

Follow me at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorwendyj...


Twitter: @wendyjdunn

Instagram: wendyjdunnauthor

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 81 reviews
Profile Image for Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore.
760 reviews170 followers
February 16, 2018
My thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book for review. This one I picked because it was set in Tudor England, Henry VIII’s court to be specific, and told through the eyes of young Catherine ‘Kate’ Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn, and Anne’s niece.

Kate Carey is disgruntled with her life at home with her mother and stepfather, Will Stafford, perplexed at why her mother married so much beneath her, and why she has to stay home with her new step brother and sister while her brother Henry is at court. When finally, she gets permission to go to court, she finds life there completely unlike what she had expected. Danger and treachery lie at every step, every unguarded word, every friendship even, can in the blink of an eye spell doom. For a young girl like Kate, despite her position, the court isn’t the safest of places either (this wasn’t something I’d realised from the other books I’ve read set in Tudor England). Life isn’t much rosier for her aunt the Queen, as Kate also finds for Anne hasn’t yet given the King his heir, and her past ally Cromwell is now her enemy awaiting his chance to bring her down for they no longer see eye to eye. As she navigates through the court in the last five months of Anne’s life, Kate has to grow up all too soon, facing truths of her own life, and supporting her aunt, who she loves very much, and who loves her in turn through the very heavy trials that lie ahead, the very heaviest one among them.

I thought the author did a great job of telling Anne’s tale from Kate Carey’s perspective, and gives us a credible portrayal of the world of Henry’s court through the eyes of a naive fourteen-year-old. Kate is really only a child when she first arrives―a typical adolescent with dreams and also her share of tantrums (of a kind) but once at court she must already start facing truths she had been protected from so far, and face the often ugly reality of life. But on the positive side for her is her love story with her future husband Francis Knollys, who she also meets at court.

Cromwell in this story is also the villain of the piece, certainly like some portrayals I’ve read of him (unlike the more positive image that Hilary Mantel has painted in her books) – but one realises in this as in so much historical fiction (or even non-fiction, for that matter), so much depends on perspective―the same person can well be a hero or a villain, depending on whose story is being told.

I also enjoyed the author’s take on Anne Boleyn herself. We see her as a strong, and courageous woman who may have been arrogant, and certainly ambitious but as one who did love her husband, and who wanted really to do something for the country once she was Queen. I also liked the somewhat “feminist” interpretation that the author gave to Anne’s character which was as much responsible for her downfall as were the conspirators plotting to bring her down.

This was a really enjoyable read for me. I wonder why it is classed as YA though―besides of course the fact that it is written from the perspective of a young adult. The fact that it spares us some of the gore (all it cannot), and leaves some things in the shadows didn’t for me necessarily make it YA. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction generally, and fiction set in the Tudor period in particular would enjoy this one. Great read.
Profile Image for Norav.
172 reviews
March 14, 2016
Un YA assez triste et prenant. Je ne spoile pas : normalement quand on commence ce livre, on connait la fin (c'est un peu comme le titanic). L'auteur nous fait découvrir les derniers mois d'Anne Boleyn à travers les yeux de sa nièce. La fin m'a beaucoup ému parce l'auteur nous amène à nous attacher à Anne.
Pas de 5ème étoile car l'écriture m'a un peu dérangé (notamment, la répétition du même vocabulaire pour décrire le sentiment des personnages)
Profile Image for Sheree.
572 reviews106 followers
December 14, 2014
Most of you know I'm a huge Tudor fan and having just walked many of the places I've been reading about in historical fiction for years it gives a new level of 'feeling' to my reading. I found The Light in the Labyrinth to be a well written blending of historical fact and imagination and I think the author's notes clarify that Wendy Dunn's imaginings are indeed plausible.

We follow Catherine (Kate) Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn and niece of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's 2nd wife as she joins her Aunt Nan at court. Whilst the painting of Anne Boleyn may not be as many of us view her, I found it quite sweet to see her through Kate's adoring and naive eyes.

Kate quickly matures as she's confronted with not only the reality of her birth but her Aunt's fall from favour, as powerful men like Thomas Cromwell conspire to bring about the Queen's downfall. I love and crave more detail but remembering the target audience, there's enough political intrigue and court treachery to satisfy a Tudor enthusiast without overwhelming someone new to the period.

The Light in the Labyrinth only covers the last few months of Anne Boleyn's life and not a lot happens as such but I found it a quick, enjoyable read. What surprised me, given how much Tudor fiction I've read, was the emotion of the Queen's final days in the tower, accompanied by loyal Kate and the 'care' of Anne Boleyn following her execution.
Profile Image for Sophie Masson.
Author 121 books135 followers
December 8, 2015
Lively, touching and vivid, this novel offers a fresh and unusual perspective on one of history's most well-known stories, the downfall of Anne Boleyn, by telling it through the eyes of young Kate Carey, Anne's niece, daughter of her sister Mary. when the novel opens, we meet Kate as the archetypal resentful, wounded teenager, hating the fact her mother is happy with her new husband, who Kate thinks is not a patch, socially and otherwise, on her dead father. Kate is desperate to start life, which means, going to Court to join her 'Aunt Nan', Queen of England. When finally she's allowed to go, she's overjoyed, little knowing just what a terrifying world she's about to step into..And as events race towards their inevitable and awful conclusion, Kate grows up very fast, her life transforming forever in the midst of great sorrow, first love, the pain of loss--and the discovery of a haunting secret.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 7 books51 followers
November 16, 2014
Although this is a YA book, I found it engrossing as an adult reader. Having a fairly good background knowledge of the Anne Boleyn story, I was delighted to see it retold from the perspective of Anne's niece. There is a wealth of accurate historical detail included here, but where the book really shines is in the emotional depth behind the storytelling. Catherine Carey (Anne's niece) is at odds with her mother, who she feels has given up on life by marrying for love, and idolises her sophisticated and glamorous aunt, Henry VIII's queen. Yet over time we see Catherine grow, as she goes through her own journey of love and tragedy, to reach a much more mature understanding of what is really important. Wendy Dunn has managed the nuances of this growth beautifully, and the writing is deeply expressive. My 11 year old daughter was also completely absorbed in the story.
Profile Image for Elizabeth John.
Author 9 books229 followers
July 31, 2022
Highly recommend The Light in the Labyrinth as first-class introduction to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, as well as the politics and intrigue of the Tudor Court. Cleverly written from the perspective of Anne Boleyn's 14-year-old niece, this well-researched and creative novel takes us through the intense emotions of the doomed queen's last days. Although we know the inevitable tragic outcome, there is no rush to the end, for Ms Dunn paints the characters and scenes with such precision and authority that it is fascinating to discover all the conflicting personalities surrounding Anne. Whether introducing a YA reader to historical fiction, or delivering emotional intelligence to a well-versed Tudor fan, this novel delights in the detail while experiencing all the unpredictable and harrowing events triggered by Henry VIII's desperate quest for a son. A great read!
Profile Image for Joshua Grant.
Author 24 books237 followers
August 19, 2019
The 1500s spawned a great wealth of dark tales for subsequent generations to be fascinated by. Wendy Dunn seizes on this in The Light in the Labyrinth, a tale of the Tudors told from a fresh perspective. As young Kate goes to attend to her aunt, she witnesses the drama and ultimate terror that surrounded Henry VIII. This is a heartfelt, intriguing, and dark story told from a wonderfully fresh perspective!
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 8 books140 followers
December 26, 2015
I was touched by this moving account of the last days of Anne Boleyn, as told through her niece, Catherine Carey.

I was particularly fascinated by the glimpse into Anne Boleyn's strong character, her romantic suffering, and the love she maintained for Henry to the end. The details and richness of the court and family intrigue is a testament to the solid research. The author succeeds in stirring our empathy, not only for the Queen, but also for the condition and status of all women during this period of history.

Through his character's strong dialogue, Cromwell is well depicted and becomes a standout villain in this novel. King Henry's torment also comes through - one can see that his poor treatment of Anne Boleyn arises as much from the expectations men had of women at the time, as they do from Cromwell's political influence.

To be honest, I picked up this novel more for the journey with Anne Boleyn than out of interest for her niece. I loved every moment where Anne is given focus. I identified with her niece's devotion to her - I think this is the true force of this novel and its narrator: the reader becomes one with Catherine Carey.

Perhaps because this is a YA novel, I was less engaged with the romantic relationship between Catherine Carey and her future husband - what I appreciated was that its portrayal was faithful to the historical period.

What makes this novel unique is the language and introspective quality. Swept up by the dramatic events and the secrets she unravels, Catherine is forced to grow fast and she reflects often. I thought her psychology was well executed and that it would appeal to young adults. However I would recommend this novel to all Tudor period fans and I believe the author gracefully achieved what they set out to do.
Profile Image for Eloise.
1 review4 followers
December 7, 2015
Wendy J. Dunn’s astonishing young adult novel “The Light in the Labyrinth” is the rich and compelling tale of the tragic days leading to Anne Boleyn's execution, seen through the eyes of Catherine (Kate) Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn and niece of Anne.

At fourteen years of age, Kate is bored with her life in the English countryside with her mother and her new husband, and longs for the glamour of Henry VIII’s court and the company of her beautiful Aunt Nan. Kate gets her wish, but is about to discover the fraught world of 1535 Tudor politics; a landscape of strategy and betrayal, where one wrong step can cost you your reputation—or your life.

The novel is eloquent and well researched, unfolding smoothly and effortlessly from the point of view of Kate, a heroine we discover to be heartfelt, empathetic and quick to learn from the harshities at court. Kate swiftly sheds her naivety in her new surrounds, emerging as a strong young woman who is fiercely loyal to her Aunt to the end. Her budding love affair with her future husband, Francis Knollys, is lushly rendered in some of the novel’s most romantic scenes.

Dunn’s imaginative knitting together of historical detail, use of poetic interludes and demonstrable knowledge of the Tudor period have produced a highly engaging read, captivating not only for its young adult audience, but for the adult reader as well. For the young adult, this novel makes a fine introduction to the historical period and the tragic tale of Anne Boleyn.

The author has created a detailed reimagining of the triumphs, excesses and perils of Henry VIII’s kingdom, and through the eyes of the tender-hearted Kate emerges a lovingly rendered portrayal of one of the most controversial women in English history. An excellent addition to any history lover’s library.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1 review1 follower
October 1, 2015
As a person obsessed with Tudor and Plantagenet history, I really liked this book.

Through the later years of his reign, Henry's desire for a male heir, drove him to set aside one queen, and behead another, and I find Anne as much a victim of Henry as I do Katherine. In books both nonfiction and fiction, it is often too easy to hate Anne for her role in the fate Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Mary I. But this book managed to cast a more sympathetic light on Anne, which I don't find too often in any books written about her.

I am a HUGE Katherine of Aragon fan, I think her courage to stand up to Henry in the face of his rampant and blatant affairs was nothing short of saintly. But I also harbor a soft spot for Anne Boleyn. Too often do writers make her a vicious and ambitious woman, who's fall from grace was almost certainly of her own creation and almost entirely merited. Which may be true, but Anne I feel was a bit more multifaceted than how most writers portray her (The Other Boleyn Girl for one-- and I rather liked that book too.)

And then, I come across THIS. A book that takes place on the beginning of the downfall of Anne Boleyn, which is what I found the most moving. We know the story of her rise and how it ends, but rarely do we read about her finals days in such depth. A woman, who despite all the slander that her husband and uncles used to be rid of her, still tried to carry herself as Queen of England should to the end. Much of what Anne says by the end book are from real accounts of her time in the Tower, including her final
speech on the scaffold.

A good read for any Tudor Enthusiasts!
Profile Image for Lauren Chater.
Author 6 books148 followers
March 4, 2015
The Light in The Labyrinth was a book I discovered accidentally, through a contact at a writing conference. I'm so glad I did! It's a fantastic book, set in Tudor times at the end of Anne Boleyn's lifetime. The heroine, Kate, is Anne's niece and like many young women, she longs to fly the nest and experience the glitter and glamour of courtly life. When an opportunity arrives for her to visit her aunt, she seizes it with both hands. But court of King Henry the 8th is not everything she imagines it to be. Secret plots and warring factions threaten Anne's reign as Queen and Kate, newly arrived and thrown quickly into a whirlwind of dances, gossip and romance, discovers that she must make a choice; remain loyal to the queen or protect her own precarious future?

The Light in The Labyrinth is a well-told story which really captures the beauty and brutality of the time period - I felt as if I was right there with Kate! I would highly recommend this for lovers of history and anyone who likes a tale full of intrigue, mystery and romance.
Author 15 books7 followers
September 13, 2014
With The Light in the Labyrinth, Dunn has written a book that is a page turner! I loved her first book, Dear Heart, and this one did not disappoint. While this is a young adult novel, adults will love it just as much as teenagers. Dunn's commitment to historical accuracy shines through on each page. Kate Carey is an engaging character who kept my interest and the novel is fast-paced and interesting. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer).
355 reviews48 followers
January 29, 2015
This book was told from the point of view of Katherine Carey who was the daughter of Mary Boleyn and believed to be fathered by Henry VIII. The story follows Kate as she is brought to court and has to witness the fall and death of her beloved aunt. I really liked this book. Its perfect for those of us who adore historical fiction, particularly Tudor times, and have already read all of Phillipa Gregory's books.
Profile Image for Jacqueline.
342 reviews
December 26, 2014
Although written for YA, found it very enjoyable. It tells of Anne's last days from the view of her 14 year old niece, who remained with her to the end. Ms. Dunn treats the material with respect and feeling. I found it very moving.
Profile Image for TheBookishDalek.
28 reviews
January 20, 2018
3 1/2 stars

Was Katherine Carey, niece to Anne Boleyn the Queen's companion in her final day's in the tower? Dunn's thoroughly researched young adult novel lets us see the demise of Queen Anne through the eyes of a fourteen year old Kate Carey. Caught up in the courtly games and the struggle to find her place as the unclaimed bastard daughter of King Henry VIII in a den of wolves. Dunn give a new perspective on a woman who became a King's obsession. Through Kate she highlights the constant tightrope walk between the block and the kings favour.

I found it to be a beautifully executed book, and the character of Kate to a believable portrayal. I found myself so engaged with Kate's struggle that when I was half way through I looked her up online as I wanted to know what happened to her beyond death of the Queen.

I had a little bit on an issue with the sentimental take on Anne Boleyn and would have loved to see more of her stubbornness and furry. She was painted a little too saint like in my opinion, however over all I was swept away with the story and even found myself wiping away a tear as she took her final steps to the block.
Profile Image for Mirta Trupp.
Author 6 books152 followers
March 2, 2020
Two things struck me in reading this novel. #1 The author has softened Anne Boleyn's character traits. It is a different perspective of the queen, to say the least—almost saintly. I'm not certain how I feel about that. #2 There is mention of the Jewish Queen, Esther, and the role she played in saving her people. It was a pleasant surprise, as it was touched upon in several passages and is an important, recurring theme:

"Many, many times, I have heard her speak of Esther and her husband, the Persian King, Ahasuerus. My aunt prayed often to God to help her be an Esther for England."

"He told of Esther, and how she saved the Jews by exposing the evil of the Ahasuerus's counsellors. He told of Haman, who ended up dying the death meant for Esther's protector. He told of Ahasuerus's gratitude to his Queen, and how he recognized her, once and for all, as a woman who not only loved him, but also was ever his friend."

"I thought I could be like Esther, but I did not save my people from the evil of Cromwell's plans. Esther was wiser than I—she knew the rules and how to play them to win."

I can't help but admit that I enjoyed finding Jewish history—a story that speaks of triumph, rather than tragedy—in this novel set in the dark days of Henry VIII's reign.
646 reviews11 followers
February 11, 2018
The Light in the Labyrinth is the story of Katherine "Kate" Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn and niece to Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII. Young Kate is 14, impulsive, self absorbed, in other words, a typical 14 year old. Kate wants nothing more than to go to court and serve her "aunt Nan", the Queen of England, rather than remain in the home which she views as impoverished and backwater. But Henry's court is a perilous place, especially for a naive teenager, and especially at this time, when Henry is anxious for a son and his marriage is beginning to show cracks. Every friend is a potential enemy and it's impossible to know who to trust. Everyone has taken a side, and it's hard to predict just whose side has been taken. Kate's time at the court covers aunt Nan's miscarriage, the rise of Jane Seymour and the fall of Anne Boleyn, including her farce of a trial, and right up to Queen Anne's very end. The book is well researched, well written, and a wonderful read especially for young adults who will relate quite easily to Kate.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,158 reviews21 followers
April 26, 2018
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Almost Exclusively Plot

First off, let me say I love just about any book that is Tudor related, so this book was right up my alley. Kate Carey is the niece of Anne Boleyn. She is unhappy with her life with her mother, her new (and in Kate’s opinion) beneath her husband Will Stafford, and her step brother and sister. She finally get permission to go to court to serve her aunt Anne, who is Queen of England. Upon arriving, however, she quickly learns just how perilous court life can be with treachery and lies available at every turn. One wrong move or one slip of the tongue could spell disaster. Kate also learns that Anne is also in a very dangerous position, having thus far failed to produce a male heir.
Kate witnesses the last 5 months of Anne’s rule, and her ultimate downfall.

In Conclusion

I loved this book. What else is there for me to say?
Profile Image for gem.
702 reviews22 followers
February 9, 2018
I absolutely love reading anything about the Tudor time period, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, so when I saw this story on Netgalley I was immediately drawn to it.
It offers a really interesting and different take on the downfall of Anne Boleyn (one of my favourite people to read about during that tumultuous time).
The descriptions of the court, of the costumes, of the behaviours of the people are so evocative that I felt as if I had truly gone back in time and was immersed in their lives.
It's fascinating, moving and a great introduction to both historical fiction and the Tudors for anyone who is not already a fan.
Perfect for fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory.
Thank you Netgalley!
Profile Image for J.E. Feldman.
Author 109 books64 followers
January 14, 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I absolutely adore reading Philippa Gregory's work because she has a way of bringing to life historical history whereas many others have the unlucky habit of making it boring. Here is another author who has breathed life into times long gone and nearly forgotten. She has certainly done a lot of research to pull this off and I applaud her efforts. An intriguing new look at Anne Boleyn's history through the eyes of another less well known character. Brilliant work and I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Profile Image for Melisende.
1,023 reviews114 followers
January 2, 2019
All that glitters is not gold ... as 14yo Kate Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn will soon discover as she arrives at the court of her aunt Anne in 1535. What she will find is a viper's nest of secrets and scandal that will force her to grow up very quickly if she is to survive.

Told from the perspective of Kate, whose loyalty to her kin is remarkable in these last few months of Anne's life - a loyalty that could see her own downfall.

As the saying goes, sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Profile Image for Lady Alexandrine.
232 reviews59 followers
March 7, 2018
"Then she was a different person, an innocent cast into a dark labyrinth. Time had rendered it less dark, but only for the light to reveal fearful paths of hate, jealousy and suspicion. She was no longer the innocent girl who had arrived at court five months ago." - a quote from the ARC of "The Light in the Labyrinth"

The novel "The Light in the Labyrinth" tells the history of Anne Boleyn’s demise from the perspective of her niece, Katherine Carey. Katherine was a daughter of Mary Boleyn, who was famous for her dalliance with King of France and later with Henry VIII Tudor – King of England. Her life was beautifully described in Philippa Gregory’s novel “The Other Boleyn Girl”. Mary Boleyn’s life was fascinating, but so was the life of Anne Boleyn.


At the beginning of the book Katherine was thirteen years old. She was considered a maiden by the Tudor standards, but behaved like a typical modern teenager. She fought with her mother, her stepfather and hated her younger siblings. She considered herself to be misunderstood, lonely and unloved. She was also ready to give her heart to a first handsome boy, that showed her some interest :)

What more can be said? "The Light in the Labyrinth" is interesting historical fiction for young adults. It presents historical figures in empathic light and makes it easy to imagine life in the Tudor’s court. The main character Katherine loved and idealised her aunt Anne Boleyn and painted a very touching portrait of her. There is some romance, court intrigues, dark secrets, dreadful feeling of impending doom, litres of tears and a gruesome execution at the end.

I enjoyed the book, but I was a little disappointed by the simple picture of Anne Boleyn, that emerged from the story. In real life she must be a fascinating, complex woman, but in the novel I found her one-dimensional. I also felt that the villains of the story – Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII were too simplified. After watching “The Tudors” and reading “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel it was hard for me to treat them as simple villains. Of course from the perspective of a thirteen year old girl they might appear this way.

I would recommend this book for all history lovers, especially for readers interested in the Tudors and Anne Boleyn's life.

I received "The Light in the Labyrinth" from the publisher via NetGalley. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for providing me with the advance reader copy of the book.
Profile Image for gj indieBRAG.
1,505 reviews66 followers
March 30, 2022
We are proud to announce that THE LIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH by Wendy J. Dunn has been honored with the B.R.A.G.Medallion (Book Readers Appreciation Group). It now joins the very select award-winning, reader-recommended books at indieBRAG.
Profile Image for Mary Virginia .
63 reviews
September 28, 2021
The Light in the Labyrinth is an excellent YA Tudor novel by Wendy J. Dunn. It is the story of Anne Boleyn’s last days from the point of view of her niece, Kate Carey. I really enjoyed watching Kate mature from an awkward adolescent into a sensitive and responsible young woman. This story is atmospheric, moody and heartbreaking. I was completely absorbed the whole way through. Dunn has a beautiful way of showing how family bonds can never be broken.
Profile Image for Helen Hollick.
Author 51 books507 followers
April 17, 2018
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick

'a good read for any age'
Profile Image for Carole P. Roman.
Author 88 books2,201 followers
June 15, 2017
Henry VIII's court was a lace of mystery and secrets. Wendy Dunn creates an atmospheric coming of age book about Katherine Carey, Anne Boleyn's niece. Locked in typical teenage struggle with her mother and stepfather, Kate yearns to live at court with her glamorous aunt, the Queen on England. Tantalizing tidbits of gossip tease her, but she is young and innocent and unaware of the storm brewing in the troubled court. Like a flower unfolding, Katherine slowly learns the secrets of both her and her brother's birth, her mother's sordid past, and her growing role of importance in her aunt's life. Maturity comes with responsibility, and Kate proves her bravery as she steps into history to take her role at her aunt's side as Anne Boleyn meets her fate. Great book to introduce the Tudors to young readers. Uncomplicated and written for teenagers, The Light in the Labyrinth is relatable, as well as irresistible..
Profile Image for Kari Dennis.
107 reviews1 follower
February 20, 2015
Lack of depth

The characters all seemed very one dimensional, either 'good guys' or 'bad guys'. Especially annoying was her portrayal of Anne Boleyn, who was portrayed in this book as just shy of sightedness, ignoring pretty much everything ever written about her personality. Was she guilty of adultery and incest? The adultery, probably not, the incest, almost undoubtedly not, but she was supposed to be high strung, manipulative, vindictive, temperamental, abrasive, self-centred and power hungry. But she was also supposed to be passionate, witty, charming, alluring, a loving mother, deeply religious and very clever. Really, she would have to be someone special to reach the heights she did, but this book turns her into a very average woman. Sure, the main character Kate changes from an immature, selfish child to a mature lady in the course of the book, but it's rather unbelievable considering her age (14) and the short period of time it happens in. It just seems to happen so suddenly, one minute, brat, next minute, woman. And in the court Anne's brother admitted to certain things, such as how they would denigrate the king's sexual prowess and the size of his member, among other things. The author just leaves that out completely because it doesn't mesh with her vision of the queen, her brother and friends. If you want to read a good account of Anne Boleyn, read Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Written from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, they are wonderful books, one, if not both, I can't remember, won the manbooker award. The writing is fantastic, the characters drawn so realistically, warts and all. The era comes alive, including Cromwell's reason for closing down the monastarys and such. For the most part they were filled with uneducated young men and boys who were taught almost nothing about the bible, the church or even how to read and write. Instead they were mistreated, used, and abused, in every way including sexually, by the older, moreland experienced men, many of whom did not live anything remotely resembling a Christian life.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,302 reviews27 followers
December 8, 2014
Katherine Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn wants nothing more than to leave her impoverished family home in the countryside and join her Aunt Nan at court. When her mother and stepfather finally agree to let Kate go, Aunt Nan, also known as Queen Anne welcomes young Kate with open arms. However, court life is not all fun and games as Kate imagined. Danger, lies and secrets are what Kate finds instead. Queen Anne has already fell out of favor with the King, Kate is unable to walk alone through the castle and everyone but Kate seems to know the secret behind her and her brother Henry's true parentage. After Queen Anne has an unsuccessful pregnancy and fails to give the King a male heir, conditions at court turn worse for the Boleyn family and Kate chooses to stay with her Aunt through her final days.

Written for a young adult audience, The Light in the Labyrinth was also a pleasant read as an adult. From the unique point of view of Mary Boleyn and King Henry's daughter, Kate, a character is created that sees Queen Anne in only a positive light. Kate's character is younger and naive to court life, everything that she discovers is new and different. She handles herself well, but not without some mistakes along the way. What I loved most about her character was that Kate was not afraid to speak up to her father, the King. Kate also discovers love for the first time with an age-appropriate romance with Francis Knollys. Since this is a young adult book there is not as much court intrigue, deception and plotting adult books; however, the main historical events portrayed are accurate. Overall, this is a Tudor book I would have have enjoyed reading when I was a teen.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
March 3, 2015
I’ve been looking forward to Wendy Dunn’s next book since reading “Dear Heart” several years ago, so I was excited to see “The Light in the Labyrinth” published. Although the book is written for the teen market, adults would be remiss to overlook this one. It’s certainly written well enough that it can be enjoyed by both.

The story of Anne Boleyn’s final days before her execution is a subject tackled by many an author and thus some might believe the topic is an exhausted one. But Dunn, having told it through the eyes of a young Kate Carey coats it with a new-found innocence, one born of respect and admiration for a beloved family member.

Although the book covers Anne Boleyn’s final days until past the execution itself, the emphasis for me was the transition of Kate from innocent youth into a strong young woman forced to accept that life at a Tudor court was not glorious and did not always make sense. Carey’s rose-tinted, predisposed notions forced upon her the need to grow up fast, but the core of her transition was cleverly captured by Dunn and is relevant to any teenager forced to shrug off the mantle of childhood.

By the book’s end, one is left without doubt as to the cost of Kate’s evolution and how it stemmed from the simple love and loyalty for one of Tudor England’s most provocative queens. Yes the book incorporates Boleyn’s downward spiral, but for me personally, the real story rested not with her – but with Kate. Dunn managed to give her a depth of character that by the book’s end, left the reader aching with her.
1 review2 followers
December 18, 2014
Loved it, loved it!

Looking for the perfect gift for your teenaged daughter or grand-daughter?
Young Adults will be hiding away to read undisturbed when they get their hands on Wendy Dunn’s The Light in the Labyrinth, Dunn’s second Tudor novel. Teen-aged girls especially will be enchanted as this spell-binding work of fiction based on historical fact brings the characters of Henry VIII’s Tudor court to life on the page.
The Light in the Labyrinth paints a new and sympathetic picture of the fate of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of one of her ladies-in waiting, Katherine Carey. Kate, the queen’s niece, comes to court as an innocent 14 year old still dazzled by her memories of her aunt’s coronation.
Amid the romance, intrigue and danger of court life, Kate finds love and also discovers shocking secrets about her own identity. She has to grow up fast. Supporting her beloved aunt, the queen through her last tragic days, Kate faces her own unexpected destiny.
In this riveting read Dunn’s vast knowledge of Tudor history brings the past to life in a page-turning fictional story. Young Adults will love this romantic, tragic and captivating story.

Maureen M Riches
Readings Coordinator
Ballarat Writers Inc.
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