Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.  It was done as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, which I had never heard of until after reading this book and looking it up.

If you have never read The Tempest, here is a summary of the plot:  Prospero, a magician, and his daughter are stranded on an island after losing his dukedom to conspirators.  After many years, the people who plotted against him are caught in a big storm and end up on the island.  Prospero, with the help of his fairy, Ariel, has his chance for revenge.

Atwood’s book makes no secret that is a re-telling of The Tempest.  The book itself revolves around characters putting on The Tempest at a prison.  Several characters take on characteristics of The Tempest characters.  Felix not only plays Prospero in the play, he identifies with Prospero in his quest for revenge.  Felix uses the play The Tempest to live out The Tempest.

It was a very clever way to do the re-telling.  The Tempest is not my favorite Shakespearean play, but I enjoyed this book.  It was fun trying to figure out which of Atwood’s characters matched up with Shakespeare’s characters.  Hint: Miranda, Felix’s daughter, is not Miranda from the play.

Like Shakespeare’s play, Hag-Seed is at times comedic and at times tragic, which is yet another clever way that the book imitated the play.

If you like Shakespeare, definitely give this book a try.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books.

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book review: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith by Shaun Hume

I finished Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith several weeks ago, but I wanted to take some time to think about how I wanted to review it.

This book is about a misfit boy who finally feels at home when he starts attending a magical school.

If this sounds like Harry Potter, that’s because there are many similarities between Ewan Pendle and Harry Potter.  Ewan doesn’t fit in with the other children because of his ability to see monsters and is often bullied by his foster siblings.  Like Harry, Ewan is an orphan.  However, instead of living with an aunt and uncle, Ewan has been passed from foster home to foster home until Enola, the Grand Master at Firedrake Lyceum, takes him into her care. There are hints throughout the book that perhaps Ewan is known to some people in this new world, as Harry was famous in the wizarding world.  There is a Master at the school who seems to strongly dislike Ewan, as Snape disliked Harry.  Unfortunate events happen to Ewan, often outside of his control, that land him into trouble, just as Harry had a penchant for getting into mischief at Hogwarts.  The similarities don’t end there.  The white wraith conjures memories of the dementors.

This book is an okay book, but it could be a good book.  The magical world of Ewan Pendle was interesting, the characters were likeable, but I found myself thinking that this book needs a good editor.  It took me a little while to get into the story because of the repetitive descriptions.  There were some inconsistencies in the story, too.  First, the Does (Ewan’s foster parents at the beginning of the book) have four foster sons, besides Ewan.  The four pick on Ewan and though the Mr. and Mrs. Doe are not nasty to him specifically, the reader is told that he is their least favourite foster child.  Given the unwelcome behaviour, it is a wonder that Ewan is so hesitant to leave their care.  Another inconsistency has to do with Ewan seeing monsters.  He first starts seeing them at age 5 and the book states that having been passed off from foster home to foster home due to his babbling about monsters, Ewan quickly learned not to tell anyone about them.  Ewan himself is perplexed by why he is bandied about, but blames his special ability.  However, if he has learned to keep his mouth shut about the monsters, why is he being passed around yet again if his foster parents and siblings have no knowledge of his special ability?  Why are his foster brothers bullying him?

I think that readers who enjoyed the Harry Potter series and the Charlie Bone series would also enjoy this book.  Be warned that this book is the first in what will be a series, but there are no plans for the release of the second book yet.  The end of this book contains an impassioned plea from the author  to help with funding so that he may finish writing the next book .

Disclaimer: The author provided me with a complimentary copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review.