Thursday, 8 August 2013

Book Review: The Shakespeare Curse, by JL Carrell

While Googling around before writing this review I found a very negative review of The Shakespeare Curse, which somewhat surprised me. While it’s no, well, Shakespeare, I found this a great read and it was certainly a good library choice.

I actually really like the cover, and it does have a fair amount to do with the plot!
It’s the second book in a series (the first is The Shakespeare Secret) and the author did something that always grates with me – assuming knowledge from the first book without actually explaining or introducing things. For me, this was the protagonist continually referring to her ‘cell phone’ – I assume she’s American? Would be nice for the author to tell me.

I really enjoyed the use of Macbeth – and as I know the play fairly well (having been in, studied, and seen it at various times) I was confident with that aspect of it. I don’t know how you’d get on with the book if you didn’t know the play at all, though. The plot centres on a lost manuscript, so a huge degree of familiarity with the play as we know it isn’t totally necessary.

Lost manuscripts, though… bit of a trope. In fact, the book I read after this (and next week’s book review) also centred around a lost manuscript, which was totally unintentional on my part. This novel does have quite a few excellent twists in its plot, some of which I saw coming. The ‘main’ twist, though, I definitely did not see coming. My notebook page just has OOOOH!

There were a couple of excellent quotable phrases in this book, which I wanted to pass onto you:
He made everything refer to sex. The man had the libido of a lovesick seventeen-year-old boy crossed with a bull, permanently.’ (on Shakespeare, of course!)
It was one of the worst sins of evil, I reflected. Twisting naïveté and innocence to its own use.’ (although much of the prose is a bit annoying, I liked this musing from the protagonist.)

So yes, I very much recommend this book if you want something similar to Dan Brown but rooted in literature rather than the Freemasons and maybe a tad less implausible. It's £5.24 on Amazon.

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