Prisoner of the Queen

Written by E. Knight
Review by Kristen Hannum

This is the story of Lady Katherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, the doomed queen who perched on the throne for nine days in between Edward VI and Queen Mary. Lady Jane Grey was convinced of her right to the throne, but for the most part she was a puppet of her father and the clique of unrealistic schemers around him.

In Prisoner of the Queen’s eloquent prologue, Katherine confides, “I’ve seen a queen fall from power in just nine days. I’ve watched a queen die of heartbreak and neglect. And I’ve threatened a queen with my very existence, for I, too, am of royal blood.” Katherine doesn’t want the throne. Mostly, she just wants to be left alone, to live like other wealthy women of her era: to be able to find a husband, raise her children, and tend to her castle. Who wouldn’t? Alas, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Katherine Grey’s cousin, is a careful queen who isn’t willing to risk her throne to promises of good behavior.

The book begins in 1548, when Katherine is just eight and her sister eleven. The girls are innocents but Elizabeth Tudor, at fourteen, already sees them as her enemies. The book ends in 1568. Fans of Tudor historical fiction will enjoy this novel, for Knight does an admirable job of straightening out the complicated politics of the time and showing us the world Katherine lived in. It left me feeling frustrated, however, by Katherine’s lack of depth and by a general lack of movement in its pages. Days, months, and years went by, and Katherine was still stuck in pretty much the same place. That felt real. Knight was brave to take on her story; it’s hard to transform a victim into a protagonist.