Hag-Seed is Margaret Atwood's take on The Tempest for the Hogarth Shakespeare series. You don't need to know anything about The Tempest to read it and enjoy it. It starts off with Felix, renowned art director of the Makeshiweg Festival who is known to put on eccentric shows and focuses solely on the artistic side of things, leaving the day to day running to right-hand man Tony. He's about the put on The Tempest, something that has helped him cope with the grief of losing his wife and his three year old daughter Miranda, when Tony stages a coup and has Felix ousted.
Felix goes off grid, living in a shack along with his daughter Miranda who continues to grow in imaginary form as the years go on. He continues to keep an eye on Tony and those who've betrayed him, keeping track of their successes and how this might help him with his revenge. Wondering if he’s going a bit dotty because he talks to and plays chess with Miranda, he eventually applies to teach a literacy programme at a correctional facility under the name Mr Duke. He finally has a chance to put on his Tempest as well as get his revenge but will he be able to pull it off?
This is my 3rd of the Hogarth Shakespeare series I've read and it's probably my favourite so far! I love that Felix's story mimics The Tempest but with the inmates also putting on The Tempest we have two types of the Tempest happening at the same time, a play within a play. These different layers come together in the end which makes things even more interesting. It a unique idea, something I thought Atwood pulled off well. The inmates were believable and I loved the fact that they could only swear using words that Shakespeare uses in the text! The writing itself was witty and I wished I could also read other novels about the inmates putting on other Shakespeare plays! The only thing I wasn't too gone on was how the revenge came about. I won't spoil it but I just didn't find it very believable. But I suppose with it being a Shakespeare text that has a magical element to it it doesn’t need to be wholly believeable! I didn't connect that well with Felix either. I didn’t dislike him, I just didn’t relate to him much. But I did feel for him, especially when it came to him dealing with his grief. Overall though it was a funny read that's touching and dark in places and a smart take on Shakespeare.
I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my mine!