In the tradition of looking at classic literature from alternate viewpoints including Grendel and the many modern fairy-tale retellings comes A Wounded Name, set at a boarding school and retelling the story of Hamlet from Ophelia’s viewpoint. As others have commented, the descriptive language throughout the book is lovely. First-time author Dot Hutchinson nicely implements the interplay between the natural and supernatural, with the siren-like mermaids called morgens a particularly enjoyable touch. I also found the triangle between Dane (as the young Hamlet was called), Ophelia, and Horatio nicely imagined.
The beginning of the book was charming, by the middle the story was flagging, and the end picked up some energy as the iconic play within the play approached. My hazy memory of reading Hamlet in high school includes a similar trajectory for the play, so the slow middle may be due in part to the source material. During the beginning parts of the story, the few short paraphrases of Shakespeare fit seamlessly, however the longer touchstone speeches during the ending seemed almost like an interruption rather than words flowing naturally from what the character was thinking or feeling at the time.
Overall, A Wounded Name is a worthy offering from first-time author Dot Hutchinson and deserves a look from fans of Shakespeare, those who enjoy fairytale retellings, and those who like stories with just a touch of the supernatural. I look forward to seeing where Hutchinson goes as a sophomore author.
I received a signed ARC (my first ARC) from a giveaway on Shae Has Left the Room http://www.shaelit.com/ right around the time the book was released. I feel bad that my first review of an ARC is tepid rather than raving, and delayed until several months after book release, but hopefully this honest critique is more valuable to both readers and authors.