Hag-seed is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, which blends old and new with contemporary re-tellings of Shakespearian classics. Structured as a play within a play, a modern-day revenge plot hatches around a production of The Tempest. Felix, who plays Prospero on stage, is the mastermind, using the production staged by felons as part of a prison literacy program to exact his revenge on someone who had wronged him years earlier. The personalities of the prisoners are matched unerringly to the Shakespearean characters they play, which only further draws the reader into the farce.
The parallel themes and structures in this playful, intelligent take on a classic are astute and delicately layered without being heavy-handed. The magic that is infused throughout The Tempest makes its way into Hag-Seed in a way that is seamless and plausible, adding to the mystery and bringing everything to a fever- pitch crescendo worthy of Shakespeare at the end. Fans of The Tempest won't be disappointed by this contemporary re-telling. Other Hogarth Shakespeare books include: Jeanette Winterson's The Gap of Time (A Winter's Tale), Howard Jacobson's Shylock Is My Name (The Merchant of Venice), and Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl (The Taming of the Shrew).
Reviewed by ba, 01/17. Other reviews by ba.