Despite anachronistic language, this inventive retelling of Hamlet resonates through clear plotting and strong...

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THE LORD CHAMBERLAIN'S DAUGHTER

Ophelia offers the true story behind what caused things to turn rotten in the state of Denmark in this postmodern take on Hamlet.

Fritsch’s (Cordelia Lionheart, 2018, etc.) work opens with an event labeled The Visit, which turns out to be King Fortinbras’ meeting with Ophelia, who had long been believed to be dead, at her cottage. Over the course of their conversation, which moves back and forth through time to follow the primary characters of Shakespeare’s play—Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, Polonius, Horatio, and Ophelia herself, the eponymous daughter—the duplicitous nature of court life under the senior Hamlet and then Claudius is laid out. While Denmark starts a calamitous war with Norway, which is how Fortinbras enters the story, Ophelia and Horatio take note of the castle’s intrigues, discovering many secrets along the way and putting their free time to good use. It isn’t necessary to be familiar with Hamlet to enjoy Fritsch’s tale, but readers who know the Bard’s work will have a greater appreciation for the changes. Rather than a pitiable character driven mad by unrealized longing, this Ophelia is a strong, intelligent force who moves to improve her fate, as befitting the title character of the narrative. Purists may view these characterizations with distaste—no royal except for Fortinbras is portrayed in any way close to positively, for example, although Gertrude is given more agency here than in the play—but Fritsch deploys his changes with a sure hand, setting their behavior in a context that makes sense for the time. The narrative’s structure precludes suspense, but the story unfolds in a clear, straightforward fashion, with a solid grasp of where all the plot pieces are at any time. Much of the dialogue is rendered in an anachronistic fashion, with profanity that reads more 21st century than the period when the original play was written, which will occasionally jar readers. But the language gives the characters an immediacy and relatability that more classical portrayals sometimes lack and largely fits into the author’s feminist revamping.

Despite anachronistic language, this inventive retelling of Hamlet resonates through clear plotting and strong characterization.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9978829-7-1

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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