Vampire (and playwright) William Shakespeare and zombie-hunter Katherine Dymond battle the living dead on a Tempest-inspired island in this second in a series by paranormal romance writer Handeland (Crave the Moon, 2011, etc.).
This entry picks up where the previous novel, 2010’s Shakespeare Undead, left off—with Kate having taken a potion in order to appear dead, à la Romeo and Juliet. But soon she and Will find themselves on an island inhabited by a magical sprite, Ariel, and a powerful sorcerer, Prospero, who is reanimating dead shipwreck victims in a plot to create a massive zombie army. (He also transforms Kate’s former husband, Reginald, into the monstrous Caliban.) Handeland debuted her bloodthirsty Bard two years ago, around the same time that many other authors were cranking out vampire novels, zombie novels or literary/horror genre mashups (such as Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). But these fads have largely run their course, and, as a result, this sequel feels somewhat dated. While Handeland’s affection for the works of Shakespeare is evident, she frequently lapses into overheated prose, particularly during the more “romantic” scenes. (During one extended sex scene, Shakespeare forces himself to think of “puppies, kittens, [and] sweet, fluffy gamboling spring lambs” to keep himself from drinking Kate’s blood.) Handeland also struggles for a consistent tone, as she bounces haphazardly between first- and third-person points of view and awkwardly shoehorns Shakespearean quotes into characters’ conversations in some scenes while referencing Star Trek or Casablanca in others. The novel leaves the door open for a third installment, for better or worse.
An enthusiastic but mediocre genre exercise.