Imagine what England might have been like if Anne Boleyn had birthed a son for King Henry VIII. This story imagines just that, instead of being cast aside after the birth of Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn gives birth to twins, Elizabeth and Edward VI, securing a legitimate male heir for the throne. King Henry VIII still entertains his womanizing ways, but his jousting accident comes before he can push Anne aside and Henry names Anne the Regent until Edward comes of age. It is now up to Anne to weather the tense political climate building between England, France and Spain and to secure the throne for her children until Edward comes of age.
As an avid reader of all things Tudor, I was very excited to see what could be imagined for Anne Boleyn if her life was continued past her short reign as Queen. Some points in history were kept the same throughout this alternative historical fiction tale, but some were obviously changed. It was interesting to see the new roles that Henry VIII's real life next wives took, many now served Queen Anne, some more faithfully than others. I was also fascinated by the insight of Queen Anne as she aged. She was very remorseful of her treatment to Katherine of Aragon and Mary, especially since she was almost placed in the same situation. Queen Anne also explained many times that it was not she who pushed herself onto Henry, but she merely could not say no to the King. I was also intrigued how, at the end everything seemed to turn out the way that history intended. I did wish that the book went into more detail, this was a shorter story, so time moved quickly and many events simply happened and were not experienced through reading. I would have loved to be engrossed in this alternate history for a little longer and have had the characters expanded upon a bit more. Overall, an insightful look into what might have been for Henry VIII's 'Most Happy' Queen.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Lucifer has opened his doorway into the void now, and there's a fairly complicated plan where he retrieves his wings, avoids a battle with the heavenly host, and some other stuff. I read this for the "Demons" square for the Halloween bingo. Whether the devil counts as a demon may be debatable, but there are other demons in the story. I'm not sure if it would work for any other square. The children from the title are important to the story but I'm not sure whether they would count as main characters for "Chilling children". Maybe Elaine would.
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
I’m not sure I can really call this ‘science fiction’—‘alternate history/contemporary world’, rather?— and for once I find ‘speculative fiction’ is actually more appropriate. ‘Yesterday’ is set in a 2015 world where people, due to a gene getting inhibited when they become adults, lose their short term memories. ‘Monos’ can only retain the previous days, while ‘Duos’ can retain two days... but nothing more. In order to function, people therefore have to keep writing in their diaries, and make a conscious effort to learn the important ‘facts’ that happened to them.
I found this premise quite interesting, especially when it came to setting a mystery in that world: how would an investigator go about their job, link clues together, if they can only rely on written facts and not on actual memories? Because they’re bound to forget to write some details that would then become important, only at the time they looked so trivial they didn’t think them so. This is DI Richardson’s conundrum, as the main investigator in Sophia Ayling’s suicide-or-murder case, since he knows he has to solve this very quickly, otherwise he may miss some important clues. Just like potential suspects will literally forget what a crafty interrogation session could have made them say. All of this, of course, while keeping in mind an important question: are diaries reliable?
The story revolves around four characters’ narratives and diaries: Claire Evans, a Mono ex-waitress who married a successful Duo writer, but struggles daily with her feelings of inadequacy compared to her husband’s ability to remember more; Mark Evans, whose career as a writer isn’t so satisfying anymore, just like his marriage, and who’s tempted to veer towards politics... and mistresses; Sophia Ayling, a woman with the rare ability to remember everything... including tiny little slights that built up into hatred and a deep desire for revenge; and Hans Richardson, the inspector determined to crack the case in one day, but who also harbours secrets of his own.
In itself, it was a fast-paced enough read (everything happens over 24 hours, after all), and one that kept my attention; the plot twists were easy enough for me to guess, yet at the same time I still wanted to see how the characters themselves, with their limited day to day memories, would go about making sense of everything that happened to them.
In the end, though, the memory limit proved to ask more questions than it provided answers, making the world building kind of... shaky? The society depicted here seems to have been built on the short term memory problem as if it had been here from the start. But while I can see how modern technology (paper diaries, then iDiaries—hello, parallel world Apple that I thought interesting in spite of being a little too obvious) would allow people to function, it makes one wonder how science and said technology developed in the first place: at some point, how was writing invented, if people couldn’t remember what they did two days ago, and couldn’t put it in written words? For me, it would’ve been more credible if the genetic shift had happened later in history—well, maybe it did, but the story doesn’t tell.
The ending, too, left me sceptical. I see what the author did there, but it felt too convoluted and resting on chance events (or perhaps, should I say, on a stroke of genius on one character’s part, but what led to it seemed too much like a convenient plot device?). Also, I would’ve expected the inspector character to make less blunders—either that, or other characters bearing on him for making them, because in the end there were no real consequences.
Conclusion: 2.5 stars. It is an entertaining first novel, I just wished the memory loss premise had been exploited better.
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
A slightly different take than in the first arc (which I read last month): this time, the story follows Mechanika from London to mysterious ruins on the African continent, following the trail of an old researcher who’s being forced to decrypt strange tablets under the threat of seeing his granddaughter killed. It’s not exactly the same kind of theme, and although some aspects were a bit cliché (of course the bad guys had to be German), I still appreciate it because... hey, let’s be honest, I do like myself a good old Victorian/early 20th century adventure with archaeologist-like people, secret societies, and, yes, in small quantities, even German bad guys. ;)
On the other hand, this volume didn’t bring anything to the bigger story hinted at in the first instalments (Mechanika’s origins, the history she shares with Commander Winter, the Engineer...), and I admit I would’ve liked to get a few more hints. It also keeps playing on the evil bad guy/female enforcer tropes, which, well, why not, but I hope this kind of dynamics will change later.
The drawing style remains detailed, with vivid colours that get more muted as they adapt to the various atmospheres of day and night. There’s still a lot of eye-candy, however this time I felt it took slightly less precedence depending on the scenes and panels (seriously, huge boobs and perceived sexy poses aren’t necessarily as exciting as they sound when it comes to depicting heroo-types characters... or, well, any character at all). And perhaps there were a few less walls of text, too? I read it in public transportation so I didn’t pay as much attention to that aspect I had noted in the first volume, to be honest.
Conclusion: The storyline remained entertaining, though definitely on the cliché side, and I can only hope this won’t last; nevertheless, large boobs over corsets notwithstanding, I liked the artwork.