My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A quick browse of my bookshelves reveals that I have a bit of an interest in Tudor England - I read quite a lot of fiction and non-fiction on this period in history. I know the facts but I like to read the fiction as I am curious to see how different authors weave their imagination and creativity into their interpretation of those facts. How a writer chooses to portray their central characters is also of particular interest.
Sandra Byrd's protagonist in To Die For is Meg Wyatt, childhood friend and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII. I thought this approach would be an opportunity for the author to present to the reader some different characters and perspectives, exciting new events, and previously unconsidered possibilities.
However, To Die For did not provide any of these things, much to my disappointment. Perhaps it was in part due to the fact that I am familiar with this particular period in history, but I had hoped there would be more insight into Meg's life and how the events of the time impacted upon her existence, and how her opinions, hopes and dreams evolved through her association with the doomed Queen.
This is not the path that the author chose to take the story, though. Rather, To Die For is a regurgitation of the pivotal moments in Anne Boleyn's life as told from Meg's perspective in a "this happened and then that happened" manner. Glimpses into Meg's character are not only rare but fleeting, feeling almost like an interruption of Anne's story - the author quickly passed over Meg's life in order to return her attentions (and the reader's) back onto Anne. As such, I struggled to understand the connection between the characters, nor could I comprehend the reasoning behind their decisions, especially Meg's sudden religious enlightenment after spending half the book as a borderline atheist.
I also found the author's persistent use of words like "mayhap" and "certes" to be distracting as they add nothing to the story as a whole. I do not understand why the author chose to write in this manner and I would have preferred that they be left out completely.
For someone new to the genre (Tudor-fic), this novel may prove to be an enjoyable yet completely forgettable introduction. However, for those readers familiar with the genre and the history, I can only recommend they read something else instead, as To Die For is a novel that provides nothing new.