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Boleyn: Tudor Vampire by Cinsearae Santiago (2010)

July 6, 2018

Sometimes when I get a new book, it’s obvious when I open it that I’m only visiting a small patch of a much larger unknown territory. This was the case with Boleyn: Tudor Vampire, which is filled in the back with ads for other vampire novels, many by the same author, in which the true theme is vampires, resurrection, and bloodletting; the characters and historical setting are set dressing and ultimately of secondary interest. This isn’t a new phenomenon; there is a long and often entertaining tradition of historical figures being drafted into service to tell a story of the supernatural or an unlikely serial-style adventure — William Harrison Ainsworth’s Windsor Castle (1843) and Francis Lathom’s Mystic Events (1830) are early examples of authors setting Anne Boleyn free from the chains of history to have impossible adventures, and Olivia Longueville’s Between Two Kings (2015), does something similar in having Anne secretly escape her execution and start wreaking “supernatural” revenge from her hideout overseas. Tudor Vampire takes the next step up in drama; the supernatural revenge being wrought by Anne is, in fact, genuine, because she really is dead. Due to combination of the King’s mistake (having Anne hanged instead of beheaded) and Anne’s mistake (cursing God the moment before her death) Anne has awoken and clawed her way out of her grave as a red-eyed, hungry vampire, ready to take down her enemies. What’s a little surprising, and ultimately disappointing, is just how bad Vampire Anne is at doing this.

It’s not as if the living Anne was any slouch at inflicting torment on her enemies, at least in this version. Living Anne describes herself as “no match for my own wild and jealous heart. Any woman whom I found wenching with the king or merely saw favor in his eyes, I had either removed from court, or beheaded.” Clearly this was a queen who didn’t play around, and her last thoughts before her hanging (changed at the last minute from beheading by Henry, for reasons unclear) are in line with her earlier life. “If I could come back from the grave, I would give all my betrayers cause to run, as I would never give them a moment’s rest. Never! I fixed my eyes on the solid, white nothingness of the sky and cursed God for forsaking me.”

Well, you know that’s not going to go unnoticed by the Almighty, or possibly by his counterpart — as Anne soon discovers when she wakes up a day or so later, still underground, and has to dig her way out of her own grave. (In a nice touch, she’s insulted to find that she doesn’t have a grave marker, while realizing that expecting one was unrealistic.) What she does find is a poem by her first love Thomas Wyatt, so she somehow manages to waft her way to Allington, spot the now-free Wyatt moping under a tree, and send him into a temporary panic. Anne finally discovers why when she sees her own reflection in a pond:

My skin was as pale as the moon. My dark hair had long streaks of white as bright as my skin. However, the most horrifying thing was my eyes. They were the color of blood.

Wyatt recovers with admirable speed, even managing to joke that “If you weren’t a witch when I knew you, then you are definitely one now.” Anne, thunderstruck, comes to realize that because she died cursing God, she is now doomed to roam the earth as a vampire, her soul cursed for eternity by — it’s never entirely clear. Probably Satan, but I have a feeling that if I read this genre for fun I’d know the answer already. Anne being Anne, however, she soon appreciates the upside to her predicament: “If I were cursed, then I would take full advantage of it!”

Taking advantage starts by getting the gang back together, sort of. She coaxes Wyatt into digging up what’s left of George, who becomes a shambling zombie once Anne magically reattaches his bug-filled head by holding it against his neck for a few minutes. Next on the list is Smeaton, but once his head is back on he manages to gasp out a few words to the effect that he isn’t in favor of this:“I know … I was wronged … but I committed … myself to death. I do not wish … to walk the earth anymore … Not like this.” Anne proceeds to throw a royal tantrum— “How dare you! I have gone out of my way to bring you back to life! … Then GO!” and dumps his remains without bothering to rebury them. It turns out that Smeaton only objected to becoming a George-like zombie, as shortly afterwards he appears by Anne’s side as a much more articulate and dapper ghostly version of himself.“Did you really think I’d want to roam the earth looking like that?” he asks, pointing at George. Anne has to admit that he has a point. As for the other three men who were executed, either they don’t exist in this universe or Anne has forgotten them, probably to their benefit.

Anne then begins a long program of getting revenge on the people who tormented her in life, although it’s less of a thought-out campaign than a series of confused skirmishes where Anne seems unable to make up her mind exactly what she’s trying to accomplish, which is something of a comedown for the woman who was apparently having rivals beheaded in cold blood before she died. Is she trying to drive her enemies to madness? Kill them? Who exactly are her enemies? Is Wyatt one of them? For that matter, is Wyatt’s extremely obvious lust for her, living or dead, a problem? Does she even want to continue existing in this state? It’s fine for a character to start out disoriented, not knowing any of the answers, but the problem is that she lurches from one action to another and one emotion to another without much rhyme or reason behind any of them. Thing start off promisingly enough with Anne sending Smeaton off to play a ghostly violin at Whitehall and taking Zombie George to have a little chat with their father — well, George doesn’t talk, but Anne does. “If not for your desire to rise in power, I may have never died for your failed plans! George would never have died! You USED me, father!” She bites him, but not hard enough to kill, telling herself she wants him to suffer. She accomplishes this by telling George to hang out in their father’s study for a while, insects emerging from him, but after a few day it becomes clear that insofar as his thoughts can be articulated, George is not in favor of this sort of continued existence and just wants to be buried again. A grieving Anne eventually gives him his wish, puts his body back in the ground, and takes off for Whitehall to hang out with Smeaton, who is entertainingly snarky but, being spectral, can’t really do much except confuse and alarm people with mysterious music.

This is the point where the book begins making it painfully clear that the plot is not going to live up to the potential of the premise. Anne begins leaving random bouquets of daffodils around Whitehall in order to induce panic in Henry and the new queen Jane Seymour, but after a night-time visit to Mary Boleyn in the country (during which Anne weirdly rebukes her for not sending a letter while she was in the Tower, like every channel of communication wasn’t locked down) Anne accepts Mary’s evaluation of Jane as a good woman who is “very family-oriented” and decides to leave her alone. Except, wait! The ghost of Katherine of Aragon is lurking in Whitehall as well, leaving the occasional pomegranate as a sign of her presence, and her purpose there is to protect Jane from Anne, who has already decided not to hurt her, except Anne seems to forget that occasionally and is annoyed to see Katherine present even at Jane’s deathbed, guarding her to the last. (I had hopes for Katherine’s character, but unfortunately the only thing she ever says to Anne is “All hail, Anne, the scandal of Christendom” and she promptly vanishes from the story after Jane dies.)

Anne’s daffodils and Smeaton’s music, meanwhile, have been driving Henry slowly insane, and he decides that some woman in the palace must be impersonating them; a number of maids are imprisoned and tortured graphically enough that I’m not going to quote the passage because some of the searches I get are disturbing enough without asking for them. Anne, dismayed, decides that she’s going to start turning portraits and crucifixes towards the wall and throw a lot of things around, because then Henry will decide that a man must be behind it (and start torturing other innocent people instead? Well, it’s one solution.) Meanwhile, Wyatt is proving to be a complication in that he sees no reason why the little technicality of Anne’s death should keep them apart and keeps trying to get her into bed. He succeeds a couple of times, and finds Anne’s biting his neck to be a new and exciting turn-on. Just how exciting, Anne will have to wait to find out, since for no obvious reason she decides it’s time to go hunt up Thomas Cromwell and torture him a bit. “It is time for justice, you avaricious ponce!” is her greeting to him, and she proceeds to hang him until he’s almost dead, but not quite, and then release him. Cromwell, naturally, is rather panicked by the whole episode and ends up in Bedlam, insisting that he saw her ghost.

She’s not a ghost, but she is … something. Apparently her powers are either increasing with time or completely random depending on what’s necessary for the plot. She can turn invisible on occasion and as a result gets accidentally stabbed by the Duke of Suffolk, which she holds against him as if he hadn’t already given her a dozen reasons to hate him while she was alive. More distressingly, it turns out that by biting Wyatt she’s turned him into a living quasi-vampire who has been biting and draining random, nameless women during most of the time Anne has been faffing around with daffodil bouquets and almost but not quite killing a couple of the guys she hated in life. In fact, the only man whom she’s actually successfully killed is a random named Anthony, who in his post-death career has also been murdering women by the dozen. These women are now rising up after death, tormenting and killing other people in their turn — “England was now coined as The Devil’s Haven. Stories of ghosts, witches and demons were running so rampant, merchants were fearful of doing trade or other business with Henry, which began stressing him out even more.”

Anne and a belatedly sort of repentant Wyatt try to find and destroy the women’s bodies with minimal success; only after some gruesome experimenting do they discover that they need to be burned or beheaded. In the meantime, Anne is torn between wringing her hands about what she’s become (“the Devil’s bitch … what sense did becoming this unholy thing make?”), gathering together an undead army to spring Cromwell from Bedlam only to chase him around until falls off a cliff, enlisting a dying Duke of Suffolk to rise up and attack Henry VIII after his death, and fending off an increasingly amorous Wyatt by making it clear that their relationship is not going to work — when he wistfully reminds her of what they have now, her retort is “What we had, Thomas, what we had! What we have now is nothing!

And after everything that happened earlier, this is apparently what it takes to push Wyatt over the edge. Resurrection, draining, torture, murder, animate zombies — Wyatt takes all of this aplomb, but once Anne kicks him out of bed, then it’s on: he begins dousing the King’s study in frankincense and holy water, thwarts a disguised Anne in her attempt to stab Henry (provoking the immortal cry “That damned Thomas stopped me from killing the King! Again!”)

Thomas gets pissy about his rejection, douses King’s study in frankincense and holy water to keep her away. Stabs him in a fight after he wonders what she would look like “A head shorter”. Later is able to impersonate Jane to Henry and get close to him before whipping out a knife, only to be tackled by Thomas. “That damned Thomas stopped me from killing the king! Again!” she wails to Smeaton’s ghost. This unfortunate spectre is also the recipient of Wyatt’s complaints after Anne turns him down for good:

“Anne has always played games with me, Smeaton, and frankly, I’m finally tired of them. She plays games with my heart, my feelings, and my very being! I never realized she had such a cruel streak in her, and I see it now more than ever, ever since she became that wretched thing that she is!”

Anne at this point has a new talent: disguising herself to look like Jane Seymour’s rotting corpse in order to send Henry into a panic, and the new morally pure Wyatt is disgusted when he catches Anne doing so. “I’ll not have Edward be without both his parents! … How can you have the gall to impersonate Edward’s dead mother? His Majesty’s dead wife? You have no heart, nor a soul!” Anne promptly knocks Wyatt out and returns to confront Henry and finally reveals who she is and what she’s been doing. Henry’s (understandable) reaction: “So, you are a witch!”

Anne is not going to be thwarted this time, and begins screaming at him and demanding restitution for her stolen life. At long last, she overpowers him and has her fangs out for his neck when … the formerly incapacitated Wyatt gets back up. “I saw his eyes. They locked with mine for a brief moment, and in that moment, I saw the Thomas I knew. The Thomas I had loved. The Thomas that was regretting every second of what he was doing.”

What Thomas is doing is saying “I’m so sorry, Anne. Forgive me,” and reaching for his sword. Anne is relieved that he is at last “willing to be my savior … as well as his own.” This time she accepts death while being careful to thank God. One earthly return is enough for her.

She regains consciousness lying in bright light, and quickly realizes that she’s in a church with Elizabeth’s and Mary’s tomb (Westminster Abbey, presumably.) After drifting over to Whitehall and recognizing nobody, she immediately and sensibly heads to the library, where she learns that Thomas “had been very involved in my daughter’s life, becoming part of a rebellion against Mary’s religious and bloody tyrannies … sadly I also found out that Thomas had been beheaded, and drawn and quartered for treason. Reading about Elizabeth’s reign, she happens to glimpse her reflection in a window and notices a distinct lack of red eyes and fangs. Her next stop is the church of St Peter ad Vincula where she’s even happier to see that she has a proper grave marker at last, and whom should she meet there but Wyatt? He happily points out a healthy, corporeal Smeaton, a non-zombie George, and her father, who’s overflowing with apologies for having been harsh with her when they were alive. “Call it the flaws of being a soldier,” he tells her, and Anne is happy to forgive him. As it turns out, Mary Boleyn and her mother are also waiting for her somewhere beyond the veil (no mention of Elizabeth, oddly enough) and the little group heads out into the sunshine, taking leave of this world. Anne reflects that though the history books won’t record it, “I would always remain Anne Boleyn … the first Tudor Vampire.

SEX OR POLITICS? Sex, in vast and repellent quantities.

WHEN BORN? Not stated for her or any of the Boleyn siblings.

THE EARLY LOVE She had an early affair with Thomas Wyatt (“After all we’ve shared, and all we’ve done … especially in this room,” Vampire Anne says to him as they stand in her bedroom at Hever, just before she bites him for the first time.) After her resurrection, he’s the first person she seeks out and he becomes her faithful servant until she makes the mistake of telling him that she no longer has any romantic interest in him. Henry Percy isn’t mentioned.

THE QUEEN’S BEES The only one mentioned is Jane Seymour, and that’s fairly obligatory considering that she was Anne’s successor. Except for Jane, and her sister Mary, Anne appears to have had no female friends or acquaintances at all.

THE FAITHFUL SERVITOR Thomas and Smeaton to Anne.

THE PROPHECY Anne continually predicts that she’s going to kill people but her success rate isn’t actually very high. She frightens but ultimately doesn’t kill her father, frightens but ultimately doesn’t kill Henry, Charles Brandon is dying anyway when she orders him to be her servant, and Thomas Cromwell suffers the classic Disney Villain Death when he falls off a cliff. Granted, Anne, Smeaton, and various minions are chasing him at the time so it’s clearly their collective fault, but still, she doesn’t lay hands — or fangs — directly on him. Wyatt and the random mook Anne drains early on are, by way of contrast, horrifyingly successful in draining and killing numerous nameless women.

IT’S A GIRL! N/A — the story begins just as Anne is about to die and she understandably doesn’t spend a whole lot of time reminiscing about happier days.

DO YOU HAVE SIX FINGERS ON YOUR RIGHT HAND? No, but she has red eyes and fangs to make up for it.

FAMILY AFFAIRS George and Mary both appear towards the beginning of the story and then vanish until the epilogue. Mary is standard-issue Mary — married to a low-ranked man whom Anne despised in life but now she thinks that maybe Mary had the right idea after all. When Anne first approaches Mary’s house, she only whispers, leaving Mary with the impression that Anne is a ghost — she is understandably taken aback when she sees what’s actually happened. Nevertheless, she allows Anne to see the sleeping Elizabeth, who happens to be staying over, and when the girl wakes up Anne hugs her. (Elizabeth thinks it’s all a dream and doesn’t become alarmed, unlike her aunt.) George is described as her faithful brother a few times but we only really see him when he’s a shambling zombie whom Anne resurrects for the purpose of terrorizing people. It isn’t long before she regrets it, as his personality didn’t come back with him, and she reburies him.

Thomas Boleyn stays true to stereotype as the cold-hearted, ambitious father who left Anne no real choice — Anne even says she didn’t want to marry Henry, but given her self-assessment at the beginning of the book it’s possible have doubts. After Thomas’s death (which happens offstage and isn’t directly caused by her, though her appearance with Zombie George certainly didn’t do him any favors) Anne discreetly accompanies the grieving Mary to the church and spits on his grave. Once again, all is well in the epilogue, when Thomas apologizes and they head off into the next life together. The epilogue is also the only place where her mother is mentioned at all.

DID SHE OR DIDN’T SHE? She did not, though she did have an affair with Thomas Wyatt well before she was married, which she presumably did not tell Henry about.

WRITERS OF THE PURPLE PAGE This Anne sure likes her italics. A representative speech, after Henry tells Anne “Your love was nothing but lies!”

“As was yours! When I was queen, I never betrayed you, never! But you listened and heartily agreed with the inaccuracies and rumors of your so-called council! If I knew then what I know now, I’d have gladly forsaken everything to live my life in peace, the way I would have preferred!”

“One of the coffins within bared a beautiful likeness to a woman who obviously was well loved by her people … At first I was shocked that they would lay these two sisters together. Surely they had rivaled over the throne …”

ERRATA Not really applicable in a book like this, and the most noticeable change — Anne being hanged instead of beheaded (at least, she’s hanged the first time she dies) is done for story consistency; Anne can’t become a vampire if she’s beheaded so presto, change the manner of death. Aside from the all-too common depiction of Anne being charged with “witchery”, which at least produces a few good jokes, there are a few history-adjacent errors which are more puzzling because there’s no noticeable reason for them. At the beginning of the story, Anne emphasizes her own coldness in life by saying that she had some of the women whom Henry flirted with beheaded if she couldn’t find another way to drive them off. If it’s meant to emphasize her cruelty as a vampire, it does the opposite, since living Anne was apparently much more efficient at getting enemies killed than undead Anne. And since exactly none of Anne’s female associates were beheaded while she was alive — who would these have been? The description of Thomas Boleyn’s “modest grave marker” is also wildly awry — he’s buried in the biggest tomb inside St. Peter’s Church in Hever and the inscription says nothing about his being Anne’s father. It doesn’t kill the story or anything but if you’re going to take the trouble of describing his burial spot, an image search for pictures of it isn’t that hard to do.

There’s also the puzzling omission of the other three men who were executed besides George and Smeaton. Not that they aren’t brought back to life, or something like it, but they just aren’t mentioned at all. There’s also an error borne of, I think, too-quick reading: Thomas Wyatt tells Anne that he died in Wyatt’s Rebellion against Queen Mary. Anne’s Wyatt was long dead by then, like Percy, he only outlived her by a few years. Wyatt’s rebellion was led by his son, who was indeed executed.

WORTH A READ? Unfortunately there’s not a lot to recommend this one, except possibly its shortness. The concept is fine, but the execution (so to speak) is very poor because nothing is really resolved, it just … ends. Anne decides to torment her abusers into the grave and only succeeds with Cromwell because of a conveniently located cliff. (Her father does die, but that happens later in the story, offstage, and she never attempted to follow up on her first try at torturing him.) She can’t decide whether she’s going to get revenge on Jane Seymour or whether or not she’s in love with Wyatt. She can’t understand what precisely made her a vampire or how long it will last (is she “the Devil’s bitch” forever?), and can’t decide whether or not she wants to use her resurrected zombies for vengeance; George and Charles Brandon are both resurrected and then both quickly returned to the dust because either Anne or Wyatt doesn’t care for hauling them around.

Meanwhile, Wyatt is a huge problem. He’s not even dead, but whereas Anne sets out to get revenge on numerous people and doesn’t really succeed, Wyatt sets out to resume his once-dead love affair with her and succeeds in killing nameless dozens of women, and finally beheading and permanently killing Anne herself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this final act if it were skillfully handled; Anne’s self-hatred and wish to be free of vampirism could well translate into a wish for Wyatt to mercy-kill her, but the problem is that until she sees him lifting the sword she can barely even articulate for herself that that’s what she wants. Furthermore, Wyatt only decides to proceed with “releasing” her from vampirism once she’s made it clear that she isn’t going to sleep with him any more no matter how much he begs. There’s no way to make this a heroic look, even if he did (unhistorically) die for the Reformist cause later on. Adding salt to the wound is that Wyatt apparently suffers no penalty whatsoever, just gets to float off into a blissful afterlife with Anne and her family a few centuries later, since presumably he was careful enough not to curse God right before his death. By her own account, Living Anne would have made short work of this man. Vampire Anne can only complain and, ultimately, submit.

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From → Book Overviews

  1. Good grief. It sounds a bit like a novel I’ve read where Cleopatra is the one who rises as a vampire to wreak revenge etc., and also is strangely ineffectual at it – as in, yes, people die, but somehow she doesn’t get around to Octavian/Augustus, Agrippa or any of the top bunch whose deaths would actually make a difference. (Also, no attempt to weaponize this vampire thing to throw the Romans out of Egypt and/or enslave the new governor or anything like that.) I don’t rememember much of it – it’s been eons, and I never felled compelled to reread – but I think it ended with resurrected Antony persuading her they both need to die for good; Antony was actually the most interesting thing about the novel, a far cry from the late stage drunken wreck characterisation you usually get (in historical fiction), with torn loyalties and awareness he had his shot and missed, and didn’t want to use this unexpected new existence to do the same mistakes all over again.

    With Anne, I think an author is in a bind because if you give her vampire powers and resurrection, then you really have to justify why history should proceed as it did without at the very least Cromwell, Mary Tudor and Henry dying instantly. Jane Seymour is optional; I’m thinking a risen-from-the-grave Anne would still be ambitious enough to want her daughter on the throne, and if Henry dies before Jane S. gets pregnant, then it’s either Mary (unless she’s already dead) or Elizabeth and a regency for SOMEONE, with Anne is the hidden vampiric eminence behind him. Would Anne kill Uncle Norfolk (who’d certainly make a play for the regency) for throwing her and George to the dogs or make a deal? I’m tempted to go with “kill him”, not least because she’d know she could never trust him. Otoh his son the poet is a bit young to make a plausible regent, though that reminds me, Henry Fitzroy is still alive at that point. And come to think of it, both of them aren’t that much younger than Henry VIII. was when taking the throne. And lots of factions could rally behind him (if Mary is dead), since teenage male bastardy is probably seen as preferable to female Protestant toddler (also recently declared a bastard). (Though wait, had that already happened if Anne kills Henry VIIII immediately after her execution-and-rebirth?)

    Anyway, there’s a lot you can do but not if you shy away from altering the course of history.

    • sonetka permalink

      In a way it’s like those books where characters try to travel back in time and alter history — the ones I enjoy best are always the ones where they actually go through with it; the whole having to keep things at status quo by the end really limits the potential. That’s why I enjoyed “Between Two Kings” so much, even though the writing left a lot to be desired — that one just threw existing historical record to the wind and gave the French King a new wife, Jane Seymour a different, disabled baby son since the timing was changed by a few months, and so forth. But even in this book there was zero attention to one of the few things that did demonstrably change, which was Cromwell’s early death. If Cromwell has been out of commission since before Jane Seymour’s death and then is killed not long after, Anne of Cleves is highly unlikely to ever get near England and so many dominoes fall after that. (What I wouldn’t give to see Henry actually marry Christina of Denmark!)

      I can see what you mean by not wanting to kill Henry too soon because Mary would inevitably be the preferred choice between the two daughters. Katherine of Aragon’s spirit protecting Jane was a nice idea and really needed expanding on — a real war between the deceased wives could have been great. Henry Fitzroy makes me wonder about the potential for Anne getting it wrong — say he’s already sickly, she bites him, and he dies and transforms into a vampire — except now his health isn’t relevant anymore and nobody knows that he’s actually dead, since the only obvious sign would be his oddly red eyes (and who’s going to anger His Spoiled Unmajesty by pointing those out?) So now she’s accidentally displaced both Elizabeth and Mary with Bessie Blount’s son.

      • Well, vampire Henry Fitzroy has been done in “Blood Ties”, so an author might be careful out of fear to be sued for plagiarism, but otherweise, yep, good idea. Especially since the Blood Ties variation was presumed dead and disappeared into his unlife, as opposed to going for the throne. But hey, why shouldn’t young Richmond have inherited some Tudor ambition? We simply don’t know enough about him to say whether he did or didn’t, and Henry’s other kids certainly were not willing to forego their shot at the top job. So the boost by vampire powers might be just the last incentive he needs to say, hell, yeah, here comes Henry IX!

        And considering he’s the father-in-law, Uncle Norfolk would so behind that idea (and offer his estranged Duchess as the first victim). If Anne wants her daughter to a) survive and grow up and b) get to the throne, she would have to join forces with enemies both alive and undead to deal with what and who she has released in this AU. I’m strangely fond of the idea of her having to team up with Thomas More’s ghost (who is still earth bound because of those six burned heretics), say…

      • sonetka permalink

        I just looked up Blood Ties and am now marveling that I somehow never heard of it until now. Then again, watching TV shows and movies ten years after they air is something I tend to do — is it worth watching?

        I’ll bet Vampire Fitzroy would have his share of ambition and more — considering how much his father made of him and the various proposals floated that would have enabled him to inherit somehow, it would be natural enough. And since he doesn’t fear death any more — or rather, can only be killed in very specific ways — he can display the sort of reckless, dramatic bravery which his father loved. Henry IX would definitely be on his way. And teaming up with Thomas More would be perfect — though I wonder what exactly he would have to do in order to redeem himself for those six. Save six others, possibly? And turning or killing Mary would be very hard both because More would be against it and because there’s no way Katherine of Aragon’s spirit is letting her guard down around her daughter. Perhaps the compromise would be to somehow engineer a “divine revelation” to Henry that Mary should marry some powerful and extremely distant prince, since although she’d still be living, Parliament wouldn’t exactly be in a hurry to award the kingdom to the wife of the ruler of another country. Mary wouldn’t like it, but on the other hand she would probably like very much to be married at an earlier age than in real life (and hopefully to a better husband).

  2. Great post! I admit I’ve never heard of this book before, but I’m not surprised there’s at least one Vampire Anne out there; a tragic story with lots of juicy details (historical or invented) is the stuff of which vampires are made.

    It actually sounds to me like this could have been a solid premise with a little more focus. When raising a character from the dead for a vampire revenge romp, you really need to have them DO something; if they don’t have any effect, then what’s the point? When toying with history this way, the two solid approaches are a) screw your courage to the sticking-place and actually alter really big events (say, if Anne had straight-up kill the King of England) or b) show how things would have been different (a long, healthy, happy reign for Queen Jane) if the character hadn’t secretly interfered. From the sound of it, though, this Anne was kind of all over the place.

    Thanks for reading this book and sharing your thoughts. I always love your essays, and this one was a doozy!

    • sonetka permalink

      Yeah, I think the trouble was that the author didn’t want her to be *too* unsympathetic but let’s face it, when you’re an undead “Devil’s bitch” and admit to executing rivals in cold blood while you were alive, that ship has already sailed and you might as well make the most of it. Vampire Anne draining Queen Jane, who would otherwise have survived to have half a dozen sons, would be a great improvement.

  3. Blood Ties: With a few caveats, I liked it, for the following reasons:

    – the main character and detective around whom the show is centred is a woman, Victoria “Vicky” Nelson, and not the vampire who is also in the cast, which avoids the obvious Forever Knight/Angel comparisons from the get go
    – Vicky, while attracted to Henry (that would be the vampire, and yes, he’s Henry Fitzroy), doesn’t swoon over him or abandon all her other ties; her connection to her former partner Mike is presented as strong, and there are reasons unrelated to Henry why they broke up to begin with and don’t get together (there are sparks, but they also tend to argue most of the time)
    – Vicky is believable competent at what she does; she’s also believably an adult woman, and a professional with experience (there is a great scene where Henry is ready to give her an “you’ve never killed a human being, you don’t know what it will do to you” speech, and she calmly tells him that she did shoot a man in her cop years, and no, she won’t ever forget it, but she knows she can do it if it’s the only way to protect others)
    – Vicky’s sidekick Corinne (btw, hooray for relationships between two female characters, and while they do occasionally discuss the guys, they mostly talk about the cases) is a geeky goth girl
    – Henry earns his living as a comics writer (and -drawer; I have read the first of the novels, and there he writes trashy romances; I can’t decide which profession I like more for Henry VIII. bastard son who died with 17, the whole trashy romace writing just seems sublimely fitting, but I can see why they wanted something visual for a visual medium and hence made the switch)
    – Mike is the absolute antithesis to one of my least favourite tropes in either pro or fanfiction, the Insignificant Other, aka the fiance/boyfriend/husband /alternate love interest just there to be dumped for the more exciting bad boy/supernatural guy/romantic hero; see above re: his relationship with Vicky.
    – there is a female pathologist who could give Oz lessons in the art of deadpan acceptance of the supernatural and dry humour
    – the show has a nice sense of humor

    The caveats? Well, let’s start with the third episode, aka the voodoo episode, which is just plain embarassing. (Also with a very questionable racial subtext.) Skip it if you want to watch the show, and read Barbara Hambly’s series about Benjamin January (starts with A Free Man of Colour) instead. Someimes the production looks really cheap and studio-bound. Also, sometimes all the previous detective and cop shows I’ve seen make me yell at the screen “but that wouldn’t happen, where’s the backup!” or procedural niceties like that, which are ignored to heighten the suspense. I could have done without the crazy evil priest as well, but that two parter offered some really good character scenes for Vicky, Mike and Henry, so that didn’t make me roll my eyes too much.

  4. On our own speculative plotline featuring Tudor vampires: yes, I think a marriage for Mary would be an acceptable compromise for Anne, More and Katherine of Aragon to make, especially if Vampire Fitzroy is either also gunning for Mary if she stays in England or decides to go for the incest marriage some nitwit suggested at some point. This would motivate all of this unwilling allies AND Mary herself to go for a marraige far away from England, and not to cousin Philip. (Or his dad, for that matter.) Mind you, I’m not so well versed in continental princes in the years after Anne’s execution that I could come up with a suitable bridegroom for her at once.

    Thomas More’s atonment: yes, he has to save six people, but not just any six, but six who would in life have been his enemies & qualify as heretics. Let’s say that he first comes cross vampire Anne when he very grudgingly and in vain tries to save Thomas Cromwell from her vengeance. The alliance happens later, when she realises what a mistake she’s made with Fitzroy and pitches her daughter as a possible person-to-be-saved to More, plus of course he does not want a vampire ruled England. And speaking of Cromwell, vampire Henry Fitzroy needs a crafty ally, and I could see ghost!Cromwell deciding that this is one way to make the Reformation permanent AND get back at Anne for his own death. Just imagine the three way snark among the undead as Anne, More and Cromwell then meet each other again!

    • sonetka permalink

      Their conversation would be so wonderful I don’t think I could possibly give it the treatment it deserves :). And of course, the other wives are wild cards. Will Katherine of Aragon attempt to assist or is she out of there when Mary is safe? (I’m not too up on continental princes either but I know she was willing to marry a Protestant if her father told her to so that expands the field somewhat. I remember somebody wrote an AU years ago where she married a real Danish prince but can’t remember which one.) I wonder if baby Edward comes along in this version? We know he dies young but they didn’t — perhaps Jane Seymour is unable to prevent his tragic “natural” death in babyhood at the hands of his vampire half-brother and is now out for revenge as well. I don’t know what Catherine Howard would do, but I’m positive she’d have at least one guy on a string at all times — Culpeper was such a creep, though, perhaps she’s gone back to Dereham and they fight for a cause yet to be determined :).

      • I love it. Edward dies indeed as a baby due to his older half brother not standing for the competition a legitimate male heir would provide, which means Jane is Team Revenge. Though not necessarily Team Elizabeth For Succession; she might be eyeing the Scottish line, depending on how much or little she shares her brothers’ religious politics. Speaking of religion, couldn’t the Catholic rising in the north be really about the vampires?

        Catherine Howard: would lead a safe Henry-less life because Uncle Norfolk, with his daughter as the future King’s wife, has no reason to fling her in Henry’s general direction, and also the Anne of Cleves marriage doesn’t happen for lack of Cromwell, which means she doesn’t come to court as Anne’s lady in waiting anyway. As to whom she’d hook up with, your guess is as good as mine. Otoh I like the idea of her as the Harmony or Cordelia of Team Anne, so will chew on that a bit more. Catherine Parr is enlisted early on by Jane Seymour as a learned woman who can figure out how to deal with vampires (of all sides) for good, I think. And maybe she figures out Tom Seymour isn’t worth it if she gets together with him earlier?

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