Monday, August 22, 2011

Review + Giveaway - Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen

TITLE:    Reign of Madness
AUTHOR:    Lynn Cullen
INFO:    Paperback, Fiction, 421 pages
PUBLISHED:   Putnam, 2011
SOURCE:   Received from Publisher for Review and Blog Tour

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 TAKE:   The history of Spain and its royalty was mostly unknown to me until reading this book.  I had heard of Isabella and Ferdinand of course, but not many details.  While Reign of Madness went a long way to change that, it was also an enjoyable read. 

Lynn Cullen has focused on a point in history that is still surrounded by more questions than answers, almost 500 years later.  It continues to be a mystery what really happened to Juana during those four and half decades of imprisonment.  I enjoyed the author's vision of what the Spanish Queen may have gone through. 

One of the things I learned from this story was that Isabella had actually been the power in Spain, not Ferdinand.  The glimpse into their personal life was very interesting.  It is a real shame that poor Juana didn't get to benefit from her mother's strength and teachings.  If she had, a completely different history may have unfolded. 

The story moved along at a brisk pace and I was kept turning the pages, wanting to know more. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those who want to read a really good story.

Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:

Visit author Lynn Cullen at her website: or at Facebook

Thanks to the generosity of the author and Lisa of TLC Book Tours, we have a copy of Reign of Madness for one lucky reader!
  • US/Canada residents only
  • No PO Boxes
  • Must be 13 years old or more
  • Leave a comment telling me if you're familiar with Juana the Mad, be sure to leave your email address
  • Drawing ends 8/29/11, midnight PST
  • Winner will have 72 hours to respond to notification

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.


  1. I was not familiar with Juana the Mad until I read a couple of reviews of this book. It sounds fascinating and is on my to read list! I would love to win it


  2. Wow this book sounds fantastic! The only things that I've read about the Spanish courts have been through Catherine of Aragon and Elizabeth I having to deal with King Philip and the Spanish Armada. I really didn't even know that Catherine had a sister who became Queen. Would love to read this book for sure. Fondly, Roberta

  3. I have never heard of Juana the Mad before! It sounds quite interesting!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  4. I have only heard about Juana in reference to her sister, Catherine of Aragon. I am so excited to see a book based solely on her! Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. I was not familiar with Juana the Mad until recently when I started seeing reviews for this book. It sounds terrific!

    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

  6. I would so love to read this!! Thanks for the giveaway!


  7. I have never heard of Juana the Mad. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  8. I had not heard of Juana till this! This book sounds incredible and I'm looking forward to reading it!!
    GFC Shannon Johnson

  9. I'm only familiar with Juana through reviews of Ms. Cullen's book and those of Gortner's THE LAST QUEEN (which I haven't read yet). I'd really like to learn more about her. It sounds as though her life was sad but fascinating. Thanks so much for a chance to win a copy of this book!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  10. No. Before this post I had never heardvof Juan the Mad. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  11. I am not familiar with Juana the Mad and only vaguely familiar with the Spanish monarchs. I'm curious about this cautionary Spanish tale and even more so about Juana's life. She seems to have led quite a controversial life and I wonder why.

  12. I have read many good reviews about this
    book! I am not familiar with Juana the Mad, but
    would enjoy reading this well researched book...
    Many thanks to you!

  13. Most of the books that I read are not based on acutal historical figures but every sense I first saw something about this book, it has interested me. I would love to win a copy to read and learn more about Spain, b/c I have not read many books about Spain.
    June M.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  14. I am actually not familiar with Juana the Mad, but this book sounds amazing!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  15. I did know of Juana before through a website that had biographies of various royals and nobles that were mad, or beleived to be. I think it was Joan's Mad Monarchs? I don't remember much anymore though, but I do recall feeling rather bad for her.

    Thank you for the giveaway. melorabrock {at} gmail {dot} com

  16. I love historical fiction but have mainly concentrated on the Tudors. Have never heard of Juana. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  17. No, I am not familiar with Juana the Mad.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  18. No, I have ever heard about Juana the Mad until I saw some reviews about this book. I am really looking forward to reading this exciting piece of history.


  19. I had never heard of Queen Juana The Mad. What an unfortunate circumstance for her. The extent to which people go to for power and wealth it sad. The number of lives that have been damaged over the years of both common and royal blood is immeasurable.
    Thank you for making me aware of this book. I look forward to reading it.
    Thanks to all involved for the giveaway.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  20. I had never heard of Juana the Mad but it looks like a fascinating story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  21. I have never heard of Juana the Mad. I would like to read this book though. It sounds really good!

    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  22. Reign of Madness sounds like an intriguing read! I too, was not familiar with Juana the Mad, would love to know more. Chanticlear1(at)gmail(dot)com
    Best wishes and thanks for a chance to win this wonderful book!

  23. I had not heard of Juana but I have read some reviews of the book from other bloggers. The book is on my To Read List. Thank you for the chance to win the book!
    deedeebamagirl at yahoo dot com

  24. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one! This is one of my favorite periods of history and I love reading books set in Spain in this era.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  25. Thank you for your lovely review. I hadn't heard of Juana, either, until five or so years ago. On the other hand, who has not heard of Elizabeth Taylor, who was given the famous pearl featured in the book by Richard Burton in the 1960's. Liz's pearl, La Peregrina, was one of the Spanish crown jewels. There are paintings from the sixteenth century documenting the pearl's existence. I like to think that Juana owned it first. It's possible!

  26. I have only read one other book about Juana the Mad, but I can't remember which one it was (it was a fuzzy period when my 1st kids was an infant and I didn't enjoy the book that much). This one sounds like a good read.

    tiredwkids at live dot com

  27. I'm actually not familiar with Juana the Mad. I'm going to have to look her up on Wikipedia!


  28. I am not familiar with Juana the Mad, until I read some reviews of the book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    areeths @ new DOT rr DOT com


Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Feel free to tell us what you think. (Please note that we have comment moderation turned on so we'll never miss a message from one of our readers.)