Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood rewrites Shakespeare’s “The Tempest?” You’ve got me right there. In fact, you had me at “Margaret Atwood.”
The book begins with Felix, king of his little corner of Canadian Theater, getting deposed by his conniving assistant, his plans for a fabulous, avant-garde Tempest thrown on the trash heap. Felix finds himself living as a hermit out in the country for twelve years, slowly going mad, cyber-stalking his enemies, and relying on Miranda, his (dead) daughter for emotional support.
Felix eventually finds himself teaching Shakespeare and theater to convicts at the local prison as part of a Literacy through Literature program. In this environment he manages to return to some semblance of normality and sanity, but when he learns that he may have a chance to get the men who ruined him in his power, all stops are pulled out and a sweeping plan for revenge begins to take shape.
The book is great. The plot itself is “The Tempest,” important guy marooned in the middle of nowhere left with nothing but dreams of revenge (and spirits and monsters), when after many years the objects of his ire traipse unknowingly into his grasp. But at the same time, we’re watching our Prospero (Felix) put on his version of the play, a Tempest within a Tempest. The whorls and machinations of both stories weave in and out of one another like spirits, and we are treated to a great deal of Margaret Atwoods horrifyingly black (I swear this is a compliment) sense of humor. And don’t worry if you’ve never read the Tempest, or (like me) haven’t read it since school, the original story is explained beautifully within the plot, so even those unfamiliar with any of the Bard’s stories won’t find themselves lost.
In other words, this book was a crazy amount of fun. I read it in one sitting (sleep be damned), since putting it down honestly didn’t feel like an option.
A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Hag-Seed is currently available for purchase.