[686]: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

28588073
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Knofp Canada | October 11th, 2016
Source: Paperback ARC from publisher
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?


This is Margaret Atwood’s interpretation of The Tempest for the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I’ve been trying to keep pace with every instalment and have made it my goal to read all the books. The operative word here is “try”. As in I’ve tried reading Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson but I had a rough time. I had to set it aside, unfortunately. I’ve mentioned it before that the reason why I was excited about this series of books is because it allows plebian readers such as myself to appreciate Shakespeare indirectly. Kinda like osmosis. We all know Shakespeare has his own trademarked language; one that’s hard to interpret. So these books are heaven-sent.

BUT. But. Margaret Atwood’s and Howard Jacobson’s contributions left me floundering. Their writing chops went beyond my comprehension which is so depressingly bad. How am I supposed to elevate my reading and comprehension skills if I can’t follow along with their writing? Atwood and Jacobson are a couple of prolific and award-winning writers. I feel awful for not being able to enjoy their takes on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Merchant of Venice, respectively. Gah.

In any case, Hag-Seed follows the story of Felix Phillips; the aritistic director of a Shakespeare company who suddenly found himself out of a job. He was, for the most part, a difficult person to work for. He’s eccentric, with an unorthodox method of directing a play. When he was unceremoniously relieved of his job, he goes into hiding. He bided his time for 12 years; planning, scheming until he can go back to doing what he loved.

When an opportunity arises in the form of teaching literacy to inmates, he grabbed at the chance and spun it in a way that he can teach and direct at the same time. It was brilliant, really. His chance at revenge to the same production company that wronged him.

I really wanted to like this. Ultimately, and as much as I can appreciate why Atwood is a genius, her writing went over my head. I’m embarrassed to admit that. But I have accumulated a small selection of her books.  She has a mastery of language all on her own – which was a problem of mine with Shakespeare’s work, to begin with. No matter how beautiful her prose is, I’m not the right reader for her books. It also doesn’t help that I’m not familiar with The Tempest. There is something wholly intricate about it that bears studying. Given time, I think I will be able to catch up. Unfortunately, that’s not today, and it’s not this book.

Continue Reading

[612]: He Will Be My Ruin by KA Tucker

25814244 Atria Books | February 2nd, 2016
Source: Publisher | ARC, paperback 340 pp
Adult Fiction | Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
GOODREADS | AMAZON | CHAPTERS


Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of Maker’s Mark, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.


This was a different K.A. Tucker altogether. Gone are the steamy bed scenes and romance, replaced by some good old fashion mystery that enraptures a reader.  Admittedly, I was not completely sold at first. But the more I read, the more I got sucked into the vortex of mystery surrounding Celine’s death.

OPEN AND SHUT CASE

It was meant to be an open and shut case – death ruled by suicide. There was a  note; a bottle of pills and alcohol beside her bed. But Maggie had a hard time accepting the fact that her best friend could do something so cowardly. She was a person full of life and ambition. A person who loved her cancer-stricken mother and was working her way to a degree. So what would make her kill herself in such a way?

As Maggie tries to pack Celine’s belongings, she finds clues that will lead her to believe that not everything is at it seems. Slowly, she pieces together the life of her friend who struggled with money, love, and depression.

PLOT-DRIVEN MYSTERY

Like I mentioned above, this is not your usual KA Tucker fare. If you go into this book looking for romance, you will be disappointed. I tried my hardest to empathize with the characters, but at the end of it all, it’s a plot-driven book. I was more interested in what happened to Celine than I was with Maggie, or Grady, or Jace. This is also one of those few occasions when I didn’t care that Maggie had romantic trysts with both guys. I knew where Maggie’s head was at. And it wasn’t so much as getting romantically involved with the guys, but mostly because they were just…there. I wasn’t rooting for anyone. But through it all, Maggie’s focus was in solving Celine’s death.

I found the book to be a bit more verbose than usual. Packed with narratives as Maggie tries to unravel the last few months of Celine’s life. I had a difficult time solving the mystery. Just when I thought I had it in the bag, a wrench gets thrown into the mix. So as mysteries go, this was a neatly plotted, annoyingly bothersome novel.

Continue Reading