I received an ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!
CW: parental death and emotional abuse/neglect
While I love Shakespeare, The Tempest is a play that I’ve enjoyed but never able to get into. I think it was because I wasn’t into the plot (although the writing is gorgeous) and I never liked Prospero. I thought he was, to put it bluntly, a bit of a dick. He wasn’t a likable character. I could never sympathize or empathize with him.
Enter Chantel telling me about this book and me deciding it sounded interesting.
The basic premise is that Miranda goes home to Milan. Prospero takes back his duchy and, supposedly, all is well. Except that the court whispers about how Miranda is a monster, a wild thing. And she cannot leave her rooms unaccompanied while wearing a veil to hide herself from everyone’s sight.
She befriends a maid, Dorthea, who is a black, queer, Muslim woman, and it turns into a romance of Shakespearean elements. Masked balls. Magic. Secrets in the castle. All trying to discover what happened in Miranda’s past, who her mother is, and why she’s being locked away.
With that all said and done, I really enjoyed the Shakespearean elements, how there was so much pondering done on various themes, and the pure intersectionality that felt so natural to the story. It was lovely to read a “retelling” (it’s not a retelling) that included all that since there have only been a few notable colored characters that Shakespeare included in his works, and I don’t think they were in the best light.
My biggest thing is that for such a short story — it’s just under 200 pages — it moves rather slow. It takes time for the story to get going, which meant that I felt like it was never quite going to take off. It just really took a whole long time for it to happen, but once it was there, I was hooked.
Another, slightly more minor thing for me, was that I never felt quite convinced about Miranda and Dorthea being interested in each other. Maybe it’s because I’m aroace. Maybe it’s because it never quite got there. Either way, it distracted from the story since I kept trying to examine whether I felt convinced by their romantic interest in each other.
Those two drawbacks aside, I enjoyed reading this book! It was a fun little story and part of me hopes that Duckett comes back with more queer retellings or continuations of famous stories.
Have you read this yet? What did you think?
Are you planning on reading it?