The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir

This is one of several e-shorts – short stories published exclusively in ebook format – which form part of Alison Weir’s new series on the wives of Henry VIII, Six Tudor Queens. I hadn’t had much interest in reading them until I noticed that this one, The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today, was (and still is, at the moment) free to download from Amazon. It seemed a good opportunity to see what they were like.

Having read the first two full-length novels in the series (on Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn) and with the third one, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, on my NetGalley shelf ready to start soon, this was the perfect time to read The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today because, chronologically, it provides a sort of bridge between the Anne Boleyn book and the Jane Seymour book.

The story is set in the modern day and is written from the perspective of historian Jo Maddox, who is taking a group of tourists around the Tower of London. Jo has arranged for a special guide to lead part of the tour and provide some history on Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, who was of course imprisoned and beheaded at the Tower. When the guide arrives, Jo is impressed by her resemblance to Anne herself – right down to the authentic Tudor costume and French accent. But then another dark-haired young woman catches her eye and Jo begins to feel as though she is seeing Anne Boleyn everywhere she looks.

This really is a very short story! I had expected it to be longer as the book was seventy pages long, but most of those seventy pages are actually devoted to the opening chapters of the first three Six Tudor Queens novels. I didn’t need to read these as I’ve already read the first two and am about to start the third, so the story itself is disappointingly short and can literally be read in just a few minutes. Maybe the other e-shorts in the series have more substance, which could explain why this one is being offered for free.

Having said that, the story is quite entertaining, providing some information on the history of the Tower and separating the facts about Anne Boleyn from the myths. There’s even some humour:

‘Didn’t Thomas Cromwell play a large part in bringing down Anne Boleyn?’ a guest asked.

‘Cromwell!’ The guide’s eyes flashed. ‘Oh yes! He hated me, for he feared I would ruin him. So he pre-empted me. He was a man without scruples.’

‘Not if you read Hilary Mantel!’ muttered one of the group.

The other e-shorts in the series so far are Arthur: Prince of the Roses, The Blackened Heart, The Chateau of Briis, The Grandmother’s Tale and The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom, all of which fit before or after one of the three main novels. It seems that they are currently not available outside the UK, although according to Alison Weir’s website her US publisher is including some of the stories in the paperback editions of the novels. I think that’s a better idea anyway as if all of the stories are as short as this one I don’t think it’s really worth spending money on buying them all separately. I’m not planning to read any more of them, but I’m looking forward to starting Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen.

12 thoughts on “The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir

  1. Rachel Bailey says:

    Sadly, I must report that the short pieces, including The Tower Is Full of Ghosts Today, do not appear to be free here. In fact, I cannot even find it on Amazon at any price. Sigh.

    • Helen says:

      Sorry you’re not able to find them, Rachel. I have just looked on Alison Weir’s website and it seems they are currently only available as ebooks in the UK, but her US publisher is including some of them in the paperback editions of the full-length novels. I’ve added a note about that to my review.

      • Rachel Bailey says:

        Thank you! At least I know they exist, and I can keep an eye out for them to pop up on the US Amazon site.

  2. FictionFan says:

    Normally I hate these Kindle shorts with a tiny story and then pages of advertising for the auhtor’s novels, but in this case I’m intrigued to read those opening chapters to see how I feel about her style – I haven’t read any of her fiction (faction?) before. So thanks for the tip-off – duly downloaded! 😀

    • Helen says:

      The Kindle shorts often just seem like a marketing ploy and I tend to avoid them, but they’re a good idea when you’re genuinely interested in sampling an author’s writing without making a big commitment. And of course, when it’s free you haven’t lost anything if you don’t like it. 🙂

  3. Carmen says:

    Maybe it is short but I think I would love to read about those ghosts giving a tour of The Tower. 🙂 That quote is humorous. I look forward to your review of the third novel in the series. I saw it offered on Netgalley but my scheduled is packed, though light because I’m reading about a book a month, and I haven’t read the previous two novels (I have the first on my TBR) so I won’t be requesting this one. I’ll read it though, eventually.

    • Helen says:

      I should be starting the Jane Seymour book soon. All the novels in this series do stand alone, but it still makes sense to read them in order beginning with Katherine of Aragon.

  4. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I am pleased you enjoyed this free e-short. I also have a copy of this which I am looking forward to read, although I have the Anne Boleyn novel lined up to read first. But unless anymore are offered for free, I don’t think I will getting any of the other e-shorts either.

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