Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood
I was beyond excited to be able to review and read this book. Having seen the Jeanette Winterson rewriting and having no opportunity at the moment to read it, when Hag Seed appeared I jumped on it. Because of an especially dramatic English teacher in high school, I have so many fond memories of the Shakespeare plays: The Tempest, King Lear, etc. Being written by Margaret Atwood, a favorite author of mine, was an added bonus, so the excitement for this book was off the charts.
I was not disappointed. Hag Seed is a fantastic revisionary tale about redemption and revenge, about love found and love lost, and about underdogs and second chances. There are many intricate levels of complexity and depth from Felix’s syllabus and lessons, to his interactions with Miranda. I learned about The Tempest from this rewriting in ways I never knew which is the mark of a true and good retelling. Hag Seed offers new perspectives into the characters and each of their motivations, it encourages readers to see the play from new perspectives and in a new setting. Everything from the prison to the characters to the costumes, all of the aspects shed new light. The characterization and relationship with Miranda was the most touching and insightful. Even the title, Hag Seed seems to focus more on the story of Caliban, when the majority of the plot revolves around Prospero.
Despite finishing the book over a week ago, the details (such as the title) as well as the characters are still very much in my mind and I can safely say that when I reread The Tempest I will be thinking of this novel. Having read a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew earlier where I was left a bit lackluster at the ending (deriving from my dislike of the original) at the end of this novel, I closed my kindle with a feeling of wonder and satisfaction. It allowed me to return and revisit one of my earliest Shakespeare reads with fresh perspective and wisdom. I would encourage anyone who enjoyed The Tempest to pick up a copy of Hag Seed. You may be surprised at what you discover.
Disclaimer: I received this copy for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review (although I was already in the middle of adding it to my wishlist when I found it there!)
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Book cover image from here.