Hag-Seed is the second Shakespeare retold book I've read from Hogarth Shakespeare. Written by Margaret Atwood, it's the retelling of The Tempest. I was unfamiliar with The Tempest prior to reading this novel.
Stage director Felix suffers a betrayal right as he's preparing his masterpiece, The Tempest, for stage. With his prestigious position stolen from him, he becomes a recluse, nearly off-the-grid. He assumes a new identity and employment as a theater director for a prison program, where he finally plots his revenge against those who wronged him.
Suffering also from the loss of his young daughter many years ago, Felix is a bit of a wild card--you're never sure just how far he'll go. He goes through his days imagining what his daughter would be doing at every moment, talking with her, and pretending she is there with him.Parallels between The Tempest play he's directing with inmates and the revenge plot he's crafted are very clear, even down to some of the people in Felix's life having similar names to Shakespeare's plays.
My favorite part of the book was the inmates. They were distinct and showed growth through the novel; they loved the theater program and thus made the it the very best they could.
The play within a novel where basically the plot of the play actually happens provided a refreshing way to get to know the play, without completely giving everything away. After the epilogue, there is a brief plot summary of the original play, which fills in any gaps and ties the two stories fully together. I now feel very familiar with the story of the play.
I wasn't as invested in the whole revenge plot as the rest of the novel, which really slowed down my reading. Obviously the book needed conflict of some kind, and it was also paralleling The Tempest, but especially since it had been 12 years, I kind of just wanted it to be over with.
I received this book for free, but was not required to write a positive review.