William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher (My Rating: 4/5) This was surprisingly wonderful. I thought it was going to be an amusing lark and nothing more, but it actually had a lot of cleverness and depth to it. Doescher doesn’t just ape Shakespeare’s style and structure. He doesn’t just make winking jokes to the audience in using the language in conjunction with Star Wars. He also carefully considered the characters and what kind of Shakespearean roles they fill. With R2 being Puckish and Vader’s and Obi-Wan’s soliloquies adding the depth of their sordid history to this movie’s canvas. He also made some sly Shakespeare references that were purely for the Shakespeare nerds in the audience, with Luke giving rousing speeches by way of Julius Caesar and Henry V. One downside? Trying to make that run on the Death Star interesting to read without visuals. I think that proved too much of a challenge. Recommended for Shakespeare fans, Star Wars fans, and the combination of the two such as myself.
Usher’s Passing by Robert R. McCammon (My Rating: 5/5) Yes, that Usher. Of Edgar Allan Poe fame. McCammon takes the Usher family and their gothic setting and turns that dial right up to eleven. This was delightfully over-the-top. The twists and turns were so fun, reveals ripping the rug out from under you, and before you can get your footing, in comes another. As wild and weird as it was, all questions are answered by the end, and you’re left breathless with the tapestry McCammon wove. I don’t dare reveal a single trick, because the joy is in the discovery. But if you love dark fantasy, gothic settings, family drama, and thrills, you’ll love this. I surely did.
The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. This one started so well. It had the trappings of whimsical fantasy with some very dark twists. I liked knowing right out of the gate that Williams would go to the worst places, this this wasn’t going to be a light affair. Then, like I felt about The Hazel Wood but worse, we get to the fantasy world and it all goes wrong. In this case, everything grinds to a halt for the sake of fantasy politics when it had started as a dark adventure. So the tone shifts, and I’m feeling bored. Not to mention that despite how seriously I’m supposed to take this, all the fae characters are absurd and cartoonish. It’s a very long book to commit the time to when I’m groaning for a hundred pages, so I won’t be finishing this.