November 20, 2011
Book Review: Henry VIII: Wolfman
Genre: Mash Up, Horror, Dark Humor
Henry VIII is at the height of his reign and he's hungry like the wolf...
King Henry VIII is infamous for his ability to go through wives like dirty underwear with his fickle attentions and desire for a male heir. This book tells a tale untold until now.Henry's Europe is characterized as a land balancing precariously between human and demon kind. The Vatican acknowledges the existence of demons and even promotes their existence because, "..frightened people are more likely to attend church." Seriously, that's what they're going with. The Protektorate is an organization overseen by the Vatican that attempts to keep the demons in check to an extent, but in all honesty is pretty useless. Henry contracts lycanthropy and spends most of the book loping through England at night tearing into peasants with his great big teeth and hiding random body parts in his closet.
The title says it all, really I think readers will find an enormous lack of direction and misplaced humor. There are definitely some funny parts, but there are fairly few truly laughable moments. It is easy to see where the author tries to get a twisted laugh out of his reader and fails completely leading to much head shaking and exasperated sighing. I am a huge fan of dark humor, horror, and novel ideas. However in this case I just didn't like it. I think it is mostly because I have been incredibly spoiled by Christopher Moore and his fantastic books that mix dark humor, horror, and quirkiness superbly while still offering the reader an emotionally charged plot. His stories make you question just how fucked up your sense of humor actually is one minute and then show you that no matter how dark it gets, there is always heart at the center of it. I guess what I'm trying to say is there is a method to Mr. Moore's madness, whereas Henry VIII: Wolfman is just mad.
The pages of this book are soaked with blood and guts. I can get into that for zombies and the like, but when it comes to cracking jokes during the graphic slaughtering of children, I tend to be revolted. At one point, wolfman Henry digs up the grave of a recently deceased child, pulls of its head and limbs, and buries his snout in the gaping neck hole to feast. This is all after sinking his teeth into the ample breasts of the dead child's mother and ripping them off of her while she screams in agony. I am in no way debating morals here, I have read and enjoyed many a blood fest with novels like Z.A. Recht's Plague of the Dead and darkly humorous tales like Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job. If you can write your gore and humor with a satisfying storyline I commend you, it just doesn't happen here.
I won't lie though, the reading experience wasn't entirely unenjoyable. The text is well written and for all its sillyness keeps your reading at a brisk pace. I was brought to tears laughing at two different parts because of how absolutely ridiculous they were. That was honestly the thing that kept me reading, the twisted desire to see what crazy thing the author would come up with next. After all my criticisms for this book I did have the pleasure of reading the best irreverent death scene ever. I almost feel like bearing with the rest of the book is worth it just to read the death by fat ass scene. Don't have a cushion to smother your poor suffering patient with? Have the fattest man in the room sit on his face. Genius. I honestly mean that.
So Wicked reader, are you confused? Are you wondering right now "Did she like it or not?" The only answer I can give you is this. I didn't enjoy the story so much as I enjoyed the way it fucked with my head. I'm giving it 2.5 stars because of the butt death scene and because this book made me really think about what I liked in a book and how far someone can mess with historical accuracy before I stop taking it seriously. And that brings me to my final advice about this book. Don't take it seriously, enjoy the insane, twisted ride it takes you on. If you are not into the darker side of fiction, this is probably not the book for you. However if you enjoy a good mind fuck now and then, I suggest you give Henry VIII: Wolfman a read. And then tell me what you thought because I am dying to discuss this book with someone.