November 20, 2011

Book Review: Henry VIII: Wolfman

Henry VIII: Wolfman
A.E. Moorat
Genre: Mash Up, Horror, Dark Humor
Rating: 2.5

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jess, thanks very much for your review. I'm sorry you didn't like the bits you hated, pleased you enjoyed other bits, but most of all appreciate the time you've taken to read and review the book. Have a good New Year. Yours, AEM.

Jess said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting despite my more than slightly rude review :-) I can't promise to like every book I get for review, but not every book I disliked got this much attention from me. I was so torn on this one. It appealed to my sense of humor, but went a little too far at times. My grandmother would be appalled by my rudeness, but I have to say this was the most fun I had discussing and writing about a book all year.

Sorry I couldn't have liked it more, but I am awarding it the best irreverent death scene of 2011. Like I said, laughed myself to tears.

Regardless of my overall opinion, I have had friends and family members tell me they really want to read it now. Hope I didn't offend too much. I am just one, pretty much unknown reviewer anyway.

You have a great New Years Too and thanks for being a good sport!

<3 Jess

Anonymous said...

That's very kind, but I didn't think it was at all rude, so please don't worry on that score. What's more I think you're absolutely right that it is a bit OTT at times. In one sense that's absolutely deliberate. The feel I was going for was a bit of Python mixed in with some Sam Raimi and I wanted the book to have a slightly... 'freewheeling' feel to it, I suppose. On the other hand, the last thing I wanted to do was bounce the reader out of the story and I realise that's been the effect here. If I had my time again there are things I'd do differently, and I think on reflection that toning it down in places would be one of them.
By the way, I forgot to congratulate you on the blog. It's very nice looking and well written. One thing: I don't know if you're aware of this, but when I access it I get an 'unsuitable content' warning that flashes up. Doesn't bother me of course (mwah ha ha) I just click through it, but just in case you're not aware...

Jess said...

I put the content warning up so that people accessing the blog would be aware that there may be things on my blog that aren't appropriate for minors. I do reviews on some young adult books, however I review them from an adult's perspective so really my blog wasn't meant for anyone under 18. Hence my use of abrasive language at times hee hee hee.

Thanks for the compliment! As you can tell, I really like purple and I like to think I'm a half-way decent writer. I'm hoping one day I can get a job doing this, but for now I'm studying my other passion, Psychology.

I'm a big fan of Monty Python, I saw The Holy Grail when I was 13 and have been afraid of white bunnies ever since. Which is why I had a hard time sorting out my feelings about the book at first. I sensed the humor of a kindred spirit, but I couldn't get past some of the more outrageous parts. :-( Maybe I will enjoy your next book more. I am a great believer in second chances for authors. There have been quite a few who didn't appeal to me right away, but the next book I tried hooked me.

<3 Jess