Title: The Boleyn Reckoning
Author: Laura Andersen
Series: The Boleyn Trilogy
I’ve had a little while to compose myself, and I thought sleeping on it would make the jumble of thoughts in my head make sense. But I woke up just as jumbled and happy and sad and emotional as I fell asleep. I knew going into The Boleyn Reckoning that my heart was going to get crushed. There were too many possible ways for things to go wrong and only a few ways for things to go right. I thought I was prepared. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong.
Dominic and Minuette are married. William doesn’t know; he still believes he’s betrothed to Minuette, despite her commoner birth. William has just survived the smallpox, but it’s left him physically and emotionally scarred. Elizabeth is feeling the tensions rise along the Catholic and Protestant division in England and she knows there’s only so much time before something snaps.
I continue to love Minuette, although her character undergoes a major transformation in this novel. She is used to be the lighthearted one of the group, the one that provides happiness to everyone else. Her happiness comes second to her friends. She’d do whatever necessary to make the lives of her friends easier. In the past, this only meant being there and providing light. In this novel, it means burying pieces of herself, making her nearly unrecognizable to her friends. She becomes hardened by life, and even though pieces of the old Minuette are there, she’s forever changed by the events of the novel.
Dominic is still one of my favorite characters. He’s loyal, even to the end. His one act of disloyalty is marrying Minuette, but I can hardly fault him for doing what his heart wanted him to do. Loyalty to Minuette won out over loyalty to William in that moment. Yet, through the rest of the novel, he remains focused on supporting William and being the friend William needs.
William. Oh, William. Being King has changed him, and not for the better. The power and paranoia has gone to his head. He gets rid of every threat, whether it is necessary or not. He is more vengeful than in the past. But he’s also hurting. The three friends he thought he could count on forever-Minuette, Dominic, and Elizabeth-have betrayed his trust in different ways. He feels isolated and alone, without the support he depended on to rule fairly.
Elizabeth really finds her power in this novel. She’s always been a strong woman, but she has to take even more control in this novel. She has to decide which she loves more, her brother or her country. She’s forced to take actions that go against William, but will serve the country better. But through it all, she wants to remain friends with Minuette, As Minuette rises higher and higher within the court, it’s clear Elizabeth is mourning the loss of a friend. They are still around each other, but Minuette has become protective of herself, and that ends up blocking Elizabeth from being close.
The plot of the novel had me tense. I actually snapped at people when they tried to talk to me. I had to know what was going to happen. Tensions were so high and William had become so mad with power that I was almost afraid to but the novel down. I was anxious and I cried. I had to set the book down and take some deep breaths. I even screamed into a pillow at one point. I was on edge up until the last pages. And I loved it.
I am going to miss Minuette, Dominic, Elizabeth, and William more than I can put into words. This is the first alternate history series that I wish had been more true than not. I was so invested in these characters that it’s hurting a little to say goodbye right now. This is a series that is a definite must read for anyone who loves history, but also likes to ask What if? I loved this series and can’t wait to read more from Andersen.
Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Laura Andersen for advanced copies of the novel in exchange for an honest review.