Review: Hag-Seed, The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) – Margaret Atwood

I really have been dreading reading Margaret Atwood’s addition to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project.

But because I have generally enjoyed the other novels in the project, and because I have an almost obsessive need to own all the books in a ‘series’, I knew I had to get to Hag-Seed eventually.

Did my reading of Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) make me want to pick up the next book in the Hogarth Project, or give it up all together? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

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29245653Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Margaret Atwood

Publisher: Hogarth (October 6, 2016)

Print Length: 293 pages

Audiobook Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins

Narrator: R.H. Thompson

Theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempestthat will change their lives forever.

The Review

While Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) does stand out among other works in the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, its predictable plot and lackluster characters makes me want to recommend the original play to this retelling.

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) tells the contemporary story of former Artistic Director, Felix, as he takes on a project of teaching Shakespeare to a group of prison inmates. Little do the inmates know, Felix has personal and nefarious reasons for taking on the job, which could land them all in deep trouble.

I have to hand it to Atwood, her reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest was quite clever. I rather enjoyed seeing the prison stand in for The Tempest’s famed island, as well as the play within a play twist to the plot. Also, compared to other novels of Atwood, Hag-Seed was quite humorous in spite of its rather dark setting. Finally, unlike other works in the Hogarth Shakespeare project, I felt that Atwood’s rendition chose to follow its source material rather closely, which at time was appreciated, and by the end made the book rather predictable.

The characters on the other hand really drudged down my enjoyment of Hag-Seed. The main character of the novel is former theatre director, Felix, a man down on his luck following his firing as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival, who forges his way into being a theatre teacher in a correctional facility. Oh, and he randomly hallucinates his daughter, Miranda, who, tragically, died when she was three, or at least that’s what I understood. I didn’t understand why he was so hellbent on enacting revenge for his untimely firing, so much so that when the revenge is dealt out I find it to be wholeheartedly unbelievable that he could pull it off. Also, I didn’t particularly like how Atwood represented the various prisoners that Felix interacts with. They were all stagnant and very stereotypical to their class and race.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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And those are my thoughts on Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Margaret Atwood. Have any Shakespeare retellings you think I should check out? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.

 

 

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