Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

A retelling of Shakepeare's The Tempest by Margaret Atwood? How could this one possibly be anything less than brilliant? Then again, I think the bigger question is how come this one turned out to be even better than I had expected?

Set in modern times, Felix is a Canadian based director who has led a rich and varied career, culminating in him directing various Shakespeare plays at a very prestigious festival. This year he plans to put on a showing of The Tempest. Unfortunately, this is also the year that nasty social climber Tony has decided to knife him in the back and take top spot. Disgraced, Felix retreats to a run down and isolated house in a small town, where he talks to his deceased daughter and plots the perfect revenge. 

Hag Seed is easily one of the best Shakespeare adaptions I have ever read (and that is saying something, considering just how much I loved reading New Boy a few weeks ago.) Atwood takes readers on a ride that is both believable, facile and an absolute fitting retelling of the Tempest in every sense of the word. Very few authors could weave the Shakespeare play that they are retelling into the narrative; Atwood makes it fit in a way that appears wholly effortless. As always, Atwood is a little bit devilish with her characters and the narrative works all the better for it.

Highly, highly recommended.