Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore
Viking Juvenile, 398 Pages
Expected US Release Date: May 8, 2012
Source: Won/Gifted, from James @ BookChicClub (thank you so much James!)
In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free--and love comes at the highest price of all.
When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.
We're decidedly average. It's what we do with it that counts. We have to be clever. Make yourself vital to someone's happiness, and suddenly you're the most beautiful creature in the world, and he will fall madly in love with you.
WOW. Just absolutely WOW with this book. It's gripping and passionate and breathtaking all rolled into one.
I'm going to be the first to say that while I absolutely love historical fiction, I don't read it often and I know next to nothing about history. Sure, I went through all the prerequisite courses and even was on the Honors/AP track, but I'm not afraid to admit that almost none of that stuck with me. Something about facts and boring textbooks just wipes it from memory after I'm done with the final exam.
So apparently if they'd masked history within a YA novel and a bit of romance, I would be IN.
I think I was most impressed with the storytelling in Gilt. Katherine Longshore's writing is so smooth and flowing that it just picks you up effortlessly and you barely even notice just how much is going on and all the intricacies that are around you. I got caught up in the Court and all the shininess, and it wasn't even real! As a journalist who is incredibly picky about the 'show don't tell' aspects of writing, this passed with flying colors.
Because I couldn't remember a lot of the history, I was absolutely kept on my toes about the fate of Catherine Howard and Kitty Tylney. I knew King Henry VIII had wives, I knew several of them were sentenced to deaths - but nothing really concrete, nor for sure. So while I was reading, I was completely swept away with the characters and the story, wondering what was going to happen when all the secrets and deceits and lies finally reached their inevitable breaking point. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my updates; I felt like I was getting called to court, like I was the one going down the dark hallway to open the door, like I was the one on trial.
A word that I absolutely cannot stand seeing in reviews is "sexy" - just because it's such an evocative word with some pretty solid imagery. And while I will remain steadfast that I won't call Gilt "sexy", this is probably the closest I've ever come to it. I think I'll go more for scandalous and secretive...and sometimes maybe even a bit steamy. Not overtly or obnoxiously so - in just the right amounts to make you want more.
I have to commend Katherine Longshore in her ability to keep the entire story straight, too! There were so many secrets, characters, little lies and deceptions going on that there were definitely times I had to look up and try to sort through my head what was going on with who and when. Court is a complex life, and that definitely came through in the novel.
I haven't really talked about the characters, which might be the only downfall to this novel -- but that's just because everything else was so stellar. A lot of them felt a bit one dimensional, and I failed to connect. I felt things for and towards them, of course: I wanted to hug Kitty (and on occasion tell her to grow a backbone), I wished desperately for William Gibbon to give her another chance, I wanted to puke at the mere mentions of Culpepper...but I still felt like each person was begging for a bit more dimension.
Lastly, raise your hand if you wanted to punch Cat? Because that selfish whore kinda deserved what she got, in my opinion.
If you're looking for a thrill, pick up Gilt - it won't disappoint.
4.5 Stars / 5