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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen

Publisher: Putnam Adult
ISBN: 0399157093
Pages:448 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction  
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb

Summary from publisher:

From the author of The Creation of Eve comes a tale of love and madness, royal intrigue and marital betrayal, set during the Golden Age of Spain.

Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents' crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family's ambitions through marriage. Yet stories of courtly love, and of her parents' own legendary romance, surround her. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her-seemingly a perfect husband.

But what begins like a fairy tale ends quite differently.

When Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Who is to be believed? The King, beloved by his subjects? Or the Queen, unseen and unknown by her people?

One of the greatest cautionary tales in Spanish history comes to life as Lynn Cullen explores the controversial reign of Juana of Castile-also known as Juana the Mad. Sweeping, page-turning, and wholly entertaining, Reign of Madness is historical fiction at its richly satisfying best.

My Review:  

Yet again this is an area of history I know nothing about. I say that so much but I swear I was a history major in college but my interests were limited to England and immigration. That makes me feel better about my limits. 

Usually, when I read about a royal character with any form of madness attached to them, I feel sort of bad for them. As Ivan the Terrible said in Night At the Museum 2, they probably were good rulers. Except for the ones that were really, really bad. I don’t think that Juana was all that mad. She was given a bad deal. She was manipulated by the power hungry—her father and her husband. That does not madness make.

First of all, I loved the cover. I loved how the diamond shape looked almost like a peephole. It was almost quite claustrophobic. Actually much of the book felt claustrophobic to me. She was imprisoned by the ambitions of those around her, the perception of her madness and, finally, a literal imprisonment. I think Cullen did a great job of portraying a sane character who is believed to be insane surrounded by actual crazies in an insane world. If that makes any sense at all. The historic detail was also amazing.  


*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. I loved your review! You are so right--she was the sane one surrounded by madness. I'm so glad that you liked the book.

    Thanks for the super review!

  2. Juana's story fascinates me so I'm looking forward to this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.



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