Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius

Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius
Release Date - September 1, 2015
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time. 
Modernizing has always been a favourite way of retelling classic stories for me. There is something about turning something historical on it's head and twisting it with modern influences to make it feel like something entirely new. This novel is, pretty much, the literary equivalent of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. Loud, vibrant, sleek, modern, and delicious.

It should be obvious from that opening that this retelling is more a situation of being 'inspired by' than a straight retelling. Those looking for a historically accurate retelling will not find that within these pages. However, the large, important pieces of this doomed romance are represented, and the feel of the story is intact. The unfairness of Anne's real life fate, the combustible nature of their feelings, and the pressure they both felt, is all included here. Dawn was respectful of the true story she was pulling inspiration from, while allowing herself a freedom to tell her version of the story.

The changes made to the story were necessary for the modernization of the plot. Henry, for instance, may be the king of the high school in this interpretation, but he's not an actual king. This means his power, and what he could get away with, would have to be diminished. Some of the elements would not lend themselves to modernization, but in adapting the story where needed, Dawn Ius has successfully modernized something that feels like it shouldn't work in modern times.

This novel may be titled Anne and Henry but make no mistake - this is Anne's story. This Anne joins the ranks of some of my favourite interpretations of her, and deservedly so. This Anne has some seriously sexy swagger. She owns her sexiness, even when others try to use it to humiliate her. She has the quick wit, and intelligence that the real life Anne was known for. She displays a heartbreaking recklessness and fierceness that is unstoppable. Equal attention is paid to Henry, and one cannot exist without the other, but it's Anne who steals the spotlight (and in the process the reader's heart).

The dual narration worked for this story, and ended up making it feel complete. As mentioned, one cannot exist without the other and that includes the narration. The voices both feel unique and vivid along with being vital. Each of these characters came to life through the author's writing. She embraces both the positive and negative aspects of their personalities to create fully developed characters. This Anne is both reckless, and passionate. She's intelligent, and self destructive. She's sharp tongued, and broken. This Henry is charming and fickle. He's steadfast in his convictions, but easily swayed. He's disloyal, but enticing. They both are full of complexities and nuances that bring their characters to life. It's the characters, and the chemistry between them, that make the story work. There is plenty of sexual tension and you feel how dangerous these characters are together.

The ending, particularly the last few lines, are like a lightening bolt. It's filled with cinematic flair, and drama. It is the exclamation point on a stunning debut and something you'll long to discuss with anyone who has read it. It's bold, unforgettable, and the perfect way to close out this Anne's story.

Dawn Ius has shown herself to be a new talent to watch. Sharp writing, careful characterization and a knack for the killer ending lines, she shows that she's only just getting started. I, for one, cannot wait to see what she writes next. 

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