Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Doomed Queens” as Want to Read:
Doomed Queens
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Doomed Queens

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,104 ratings  ·  266 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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,104 ratings  ·  266 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Doomed Queens
Heidi The Reader
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quirky yet educational list of Doomed Queens that is organized by time period. I learned a lot and was entertained- everything that I look for in a non-fiction book.

"While kings were also vulnerable to political upheaval... for the most part men pulled the strings at court. Therefore any woman blocking the way to power was a threat to be eliminated. Common ways to bump off an inconvenient consort included beheading, burning, drowning, poison, stabbing, strangling, starving, and forcing suicide
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Despite the perks of royalty, it's usually not good to be the queen.

And here are fifty examples of ladies who found that out the hard way!

First of all, this is a beautiful book. From the reapers decorating the endpapers to the sepia-toned print to the illustrations, many by the author, it's lovely to behold. And the flaps feature paper dolls - with removable heads! (Well, I guess technically, ALL paper dolls have removable heads... Man, I think I might have wasted my childhood!)

Throughout hi
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bren by: Anne Monteith
This book is about just about every female royal who ever came to a bad end. Seriously they're all in here..and it might be worth it to take notes. Because there were so many I have never heard of I started getting a little lost.

It is best read by people who have an interest in the subject matter. I got referred to this book by a Goodreads friend, (Thanks Goodreads friend!)

The book really is not that long but manages to cover almost every queen you can possibly imagine.

It's a fun read but I did
Dec 13, 2008 rated it liked it
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.

Chantal E. R. H.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers obsessed with royals
When you play at being a peasant, you risk being killed by one.

This was a fun book! Along with the usual biographies and methods-of-death for these once supreme leading ladies, the reader can also cut out Doomed Queens paper dolls, answer quizzes, download backgrounds for the dolls, and discover what type of Doomed Queen you might be. This is as interactive as a p-book can get.

It's not as though I enjoy reading about royal damsels who lost their lives and/or kingdoms, but this is such a beautifu
Amanda [Novel Addiction]
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't even know how I found this. Probably browsing through the Goodreads recommendation section. But this was a great read. If you want an in depth historical account of each queen - look elsewhere, this has just enough information to get the point across and give the reader a good idea of what happened.

And for all those little girls who dreamed of being a princess? This is what could happen! Yikes.
Mel (ReadUntilTheLastPage)
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
“Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling.” -Louisa May Alcott

One of my 2018 reading resolutions is to read more non-fiction books, and this was just the kind of I was wanting to read to start off the new year! This book goes over 50 doomed queens throughout history, giving a brief overview and summary of their lives and what brought their demise. From this book I now have a better idea of who I want to read more about throughout the rest o
Natasha Hurwitch
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this condensed history book! This book travels through history, and doesn't just talk about the typical doomed queens (Cleopatra, Princess Diana, etc). It is also hilarious, and I love the little 'quizzes' at the end of each chapter.
Dec 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Susan (aka Just My Op)
(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.
Heather Domin
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I absolutely love Waldherr's illustrations, and this is a pretty nifty book. I noticed some reviewers were saying they wished the stories had been longer, and I don't disagree with them. At the same time though, with so many different queens in here, making the stories significantly longer would have made the book pretty damn thick.

What I will say is that all the stories certainly are interesting, and if anyone wants to learn more about any particular queen, they can dive into their own research
What a lovely, entertaining book! But really, it's a fun book about a sad subject. I was interested in many of these women beforehand but after it, I discovered many more I wish to read about so kudos, Kris Waldherr! Also, I especially loved the illustriations and mini quizzes at the end of the chapters and the one at the end. I got: "10 to 19 points: Blue blood or no, you are more regal than most. Use your powers for good." So that's nice.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Fun, quick read about 50 queens and princesses- each person taking up usually the most of 2 pages.
Not sure the age range for this one- since the quizzes at the end were really silly. Also, at times the wry sense of humor I felt was a little much and rolled my eyes quite a bit. Wish this had a little bit more information rather than the constant sarcastic jabs.
Beautiful book though- the flaps has cut out dolls and there are skulls, reapers, and incredible artwork throughout.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is a great idea, but it would have actually been a reliable book if a majority of it wasn't based on "popular" history (generalizations and vague ideas that stem from historical propaganda instead of historical fact)and actually based off some truth. I suppose the drama with these quasi-historical skits are good to help someone learn some history in an entertaining way though.
LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)
This is my kind of history book! Short, to the point & full of fun info. Kris Waldherr also has a sassy writing style which I love. Similar to Michael Farquhar, who I also adore. ...more
Ananya Ghosh
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ananya by: Anne Boleyn
Shelves: humour, 2015, history
Kris Waldherr's book, where history meets humor, profiles around 50 royals who didn't quite meet a hunky dory end. The book follows them over a period when incest, killing your spouse, matricide and filicide seem to be in vogue: all for the lure of throne. While being doomed, either by fate or by their own deeds, was the common denominator, some of these women grabbed my attention more than the rest. Accordingly, I took notes:

Olympias (316 BCE) : Crazy queen part 1. Mother of Alexander the Grea
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a little conflicted. I LOVE this book. It is interesting and hilariously written - sometimes I feel bad for laughing when I remember that the story is actually really sad. I love that this told stories I knew in a concise, interesting way and introduced me to new stories and women I'd never heard of.

BUT sometimes the chapters were bogged down by a lot of (necessary) lineage that can be confusing if you aren't at least a little familiar with what's going on. I imagine, though, that most peop
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the history of certain queens.
A fascinating book! Kris Waldherr's Doomed Queens: Royal Woman Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di presentation of women who are queens or who are to become queens but who "met bad ends" is short and to the point, the language used by the author is not formal, the illustrations include skeletons with crowns, and there is a short "digression" here and there with items of interest. I learned quite a bit of information. Definitely, my kind of non-fiction book! Love the illustrations!
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read
Heather C
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sue Smith
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a short book, with little profiles on history's doomed queens, from the Antiquity to our days. It talks a bit about their lives (very little, leaves you wanting more but thankfully there's a helpful reading list at the end) but mostly it's about how they met their end (poisoning, guillotine, strangled, stabbed, suicide, childbirth, etc).

Yeah it's pretty morbid but thankfully Waldherr is quite funny so the book is not depressing at all.

I was definitely left wondering why there aren't movi
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
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I typically know what I'm getting into with books like this, because intrigue, drama, and sex sell. But when it is about people I really know a lot about, I have very little patience and give very little leeway for incorrect facts. I should have passed on this book as soon as I read this in the introduction:

"During my research, when confronted with contradictory information, I've striven to present that which appeared most historically persuasive. However, when all things were equal, I allowed t
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-royal
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
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: young adults
While I enjoyed the history in this book (especially in the fact that she didn't just stick to well-known and over-abused female figures like Cleopatra and the wives of Henry VIII), I wasn't on board with the whimsicality and coyness of it all.

I couldn't get along with the author's illustrations showing a looming skeleton. And I especially groaned at each story's "cautionary moral" which was supposed to keep us from making the same mistakes. (i.e. Avoid boats rowed by your enemies)

That being sa
Very interesting to read, though many of the pictures looked like a bad photoshop job (not the author's illustrations; those were lovely). It was fun reading about queens I'd never heard of before, but I didn't really like the way she portrayed the queens I did know about (namely Alexandra Romanov), so maybe ignorance is bliss. She also focused too often on the illicit (read: affairs) side of things for me. Though that frequently had a hand in these queens being doomed, she gave me more details ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been putting off this book for some time (As I've put off all the books I own for those that I get from the library) and I was going through a reading slump and I found some advice that told me to read a book I knew would go well. This one did. It was a light hearted read and covered a lot of interesting women (Not just the ones that we all know about) though it did have a few inaccuracies that bugged me a little but it cured my slump *fingers crossed* so I reccommend it for any historian ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
  • Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge
  • Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
  • Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics
  • Sin Eater
  • Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire
  • The Warrior Queens
  • If Clara
  • The Other People
  • College Without High School: A Teenager's Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College
  • Seven Deadly Shadows
  • Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People
  • The Guardians of Iceland and Other Icelandic Folk Tales
  • A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II
  • Poison (Tales from the Kingdoms, #1)
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra
  • Shaler's Fish
  • The Hidden Blade (The Heart of Blade Duology, #1)
See similar books…
Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books for adults and children include Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by th ...more

Related Articles

Time travel is not the sole dominion of the fantasy genre. There's an alternative way to journey into the past: historical fiction. ...
72 likes · 94 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“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.” 7 likes
“The Executioner shall not have much trouble, for I have a little neck. I shall be known as La Reine Sans Tete” 7 likes
More quotes…