Early Book Review: A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

A Wounded Name is a young adult retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view by Dot Hutchison. It is scheduled for release on September 1 2013. Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan is not just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Her over protective father, hovering brother, and close friendship with the Headmaster's son would be enough to make that certain,. However, adding in her skill to see ghosts and the bean sidhe when she does not take her medication only makes her even more of an outsider. When the Headmaster dies suddenly the whole school is in turmoil, and the two ghosts of the Headmaster begin their haunting. The Headmaster's son Dane is the center of Ophelia's world, the cause of great pain, and a mirror of her own wounded soul. Suspicion, rage, and madness seem to consume Dane and brings tragedy to everyone in attempts to keep promises to the dead. While most of us know how the story must end, the journey is all the more heart wrenching and tragic because of it.

A Wounded Name is not just a retelling of a well known tale. It is set in a modern world, but still uses some of the language you might expect from a Shakespearean story. Ophelia is a more complicated character here than she is in most other versions of the tale. The loss of her mother, and the promise that binds the pair together is only the beginning. Her ability to see ghosts and all manner of fae, which include her mother, make it that much harder to act 'normal' and fit in. Dane is a volatile character, dealing with the loss of his father and the complications of his family situation bring him that much closer to madness and the inevitable tragedy.

The only thing I disliked was Ophelia's willingness to be hurt by Dane, simply because he was hurting. I would not want young adults, or adults for that matter, thinking that abuse is okay in any situation. Not even when the abuser is more horrified by their actions than their target is.  Laertes is as blinded by his duty and desire for acceptance as you might expect, and Horatio really is 'the best of them'. His honor and bravery are a common theme through the story, making me wish he was real and counted among the people I know.

I would recommend A Wounded Name to readers that enjoy Shakespeare, and those that thought they never would. This is about promises, honor, deception, and facing down their demons. This is certainly a new look at an old tale, and I think Hutchison did a wonderful job. This is an emotional and intense read, not the typical fun read, and well worth the journey.
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