Review: A. J. Hartley and David Hewson take William Shakespeare's classic tragedy of regicide and its aftermath, filling in and expanding on the storyline, in an authentic and generally enjoyable retelling of — or more accurately, novelization of — Macbeth.
The overall plot, characters and setting in this authors' version remain basically unchanged from the original play: Set in the 11th century, a nobleman and his wife seize the throne of Scotland and resort to murder in order to keep it. The narrative style is also reminiscent of Shakespeare, though much easier to read. Consider this opening paragraph:
A Scottish autumn as bleak and bitter as the grave. Rain smears the gray sky. Lightning cracks, thunder shrieks over the drenched fells of the Great Glen.
Where this Macbeth significantly differs from its source is primarily in character development. The original play relies on the actors to give the characters depth; here it comes from intricately drawn profiles and inferences from interpersonal relationships. The setting, too, seems richer, more atmospheric in this version.
One's enjoyment of this book will likely depend on how one perceives the original, but will probably appeal most to readers who already are familiar with the tale and appreciate its characters and themes … and possibly those unfamiliar with the work, who may have been put off by Shakespeare and are discovering it for the first time.
Shakespeare's Macbeth is an unusually short play, with briskly moving action taking place in a severely compressed timeframe; almost certainly large portions of the original manuscript were edited out at some point between when it was first written — probably around 1606 — and first produced five years later. This allows considerable latitude to the authors for constructing transitioning scenes and developing some of the minor, unfamiliar characters into more memorable ones. The result is a good, indeed surprisingly good given the rather difficult source material, one.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an ARC of Macbeth for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Macbeth: Scotland
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Macbeth by A. J. Hartley and David Hewson
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2012
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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