The Curse of Anne Boleyn
From the grand sweep of intercontinental history to the intimate despair of one dysfunctional family, The Curse of Anne Boleyn begins with the simple premise that behind-the-scenes plotters would have used any ruse possible to discredit the young Protestant princess Elizabeth Tudor. The grandeur is the battle between Catholic and Protestant in the 16th century, as well as the lure of the exotic New World, where powerful tribes, wracked with their own battles and betrayals, controlled Canada.
The family is that of Jean Rombaud, the man who beheaded Boleyn and was The French Executioner of Humphreys’ novel of that name. Events in that book took place 20 years earlier than in this one. The wile is to dig up Anne Boleyn’s six-fingered hand and plant it as proof that Boleyn’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, is using witchcraft to harm her sister, Queen Mary. Bloody Queen Mary, that is. It’s a dastardly plot, and Rombaud’s grown son, Gianni, is the deadly tool of the Catholics, happy to turn his attentions from killing Jews to killing Protestants.
The rest of the Rombaud family and their friends—as nice a group of mercenary Protestants as you’d ever hope to meet—are blissfully unaware of Gianni’s brutal betrayal, although they are worried about what the troubled, rebellious young man is up to—especially his mother.
Humphreys doesn’t mollycoddle his readers. You’re expected to pay attention and best the learning curve of characters and their allegiances (something no doubt easier if you’ve already read The French Executioner). If you can do that, this novel is a delicious, compulsively readable romp through 16th-century Europe and Canada. It’s filled with enough wars, dark treacheries, close escapes, surprising twists, and compelling characters, both good guys and bad, for any three other novels combined. Recommended.