Cynthia Sally Haggard – Thwarted Queen

Thwarted Queen is a debut novel by author Cynthia Sally Haggard.  The novel is a historical fiction about the life of Cecylee “Rose of Raby” Neville in the early 15th century.  It is actually broken up into 4 books, The Bride Price, One Seed Sown, The gilded Cage, and Two Murders Reaped, but they are all short enough that I’m just going to talk about them all as a whole.

Right off the bat the first thing that hit me was the point of view; it was written in first person present tense.  It took a few pages at least to get used to it.  Then for some strange reason book 2 changes to first person past tense, book 3 changes to third person past tense, and finally book 4 changes back to first person past tense.  I’m really confused why the author decided to do this and it almost gives the novel a disjointed feel.  It was explained in the Author’s Notes at the end why this was done, but I still don’t feel it was necessary.

Cecylee is betrothed at the age of nine to Richard, Duke of York.  Marriages at young ages to jockey for political standing is a common theme throughout all the books.  Cecylee and Richard, however, do not get married until Cecylee is in her twenties.

King Henry IV has taken a French queen in the hopes of ending the long war between England and France.  The only problem is that Queen Marguerite of Anjou only has her French people’s best interest in mind and slowly causes the destruction of England with the help of a rumored lover.  Richard of York will not stand for this and raises an army in attempts to strip Somerset of all power and influence.

Ok I change my mind, the novel IS pretty long.  In book 4 when you get to a natural climax in the story and you feel like the story should end soon, it doesn’t.  At the conclusion of this climax you find out you are only 2/3rds of the way done the novel.  Well, to be fair, the last 20% or so include an epilogue, acknowledgements, author’s notes, reference books, and a list of some of the major players of the time period along with a short one paragraph writeup of each.  Now since this is based on a true story, the story has to end when it ends.  You cannot, for example, just kill off a key character to end the novel.  And so enters the serpent.

This novel does a great job in showing just how much turmoil the English court was during the 1400s.  It is as informative as a history book but much more entertaining.  Good read if you are interested in the political affairs of that period but wrong book for you if you want to know more about the battles and history of The Hundred Years War or The War of the Roses. 

The prose are well written.  The pacing is phenomenal.  Twarted Queen is actually a very tragic novel, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.  The only real complaint I have is the switching of the view points and tenses between books.

I anxiously await a 2nd book from this Cynthia Sally Haggard.  I highly suggest everyone pick up Twarted Queen from Amazon.

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