As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

December 28, 2015


Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends—dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there's a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Julie, children's literature enthusiast and pop culture geek

Kris Waldherr's nonfiction book DOOMED QUEENS is a dark, fun look into history.  Offering short chapters on 50 female royals, DOOMED QUEENS offers biographical and historical context before delving into the ghastly end of each monarch's rule.  From Cleopatra to Brunhilde, Mary Stuart to Alexandra Romanov, Waldherr covers a wide range of time and place.  Any fan of women's history will be sure to find a couple of chapters to peruse.

I finished this book in one day and have returned to it several times since.  Waldherr's writing is well-informed and superb, striking the right balance between wit and irreverence.  The humorous tone (the end of each chapter, for instance, offers a "cautionary moral" to the queen's story) provides a nice balance to the dark subject matter.  Quizzes, timelines, and symbolic graphics (a skull wearing a crown indicates, for example, that the queen suffered death by beheading) make the book simply fun to read.  More importantly, Waldherr has done her research: although each chapter, at two or three pages long, provides a simple overview of each woman's life and death, the source notes are thorough. While focusing on the macabre, DOOMED QUEENS can be a good starting point for anyone looking to learn more about famous (or infamous) women in history.

If you're interested in this book, be sure to get your hands on a material copy.  Half of the fun is the gorgeous book design.  It includes lavish illustrations of each subject, as well as graphics throughout the chapters.  According to other reviews I've read, not all of these details are available in e-book format.  Believe me, the reading experience will be worth your trip to the library or bookstore!

Market: Adult non-fiction
Violence: Explains the sticky ends that classify many of these queens as "doomed"--anything from beheading to death by paparazzi
Language: Clean
Sensuality: References to extramarital affairs
Adult themes: Royalty and ruling, power, death

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