Book Review: HagSeed by Margaret Atwood|The Tempest Retelling|

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Hag-Seed is a re-visiting of Shakespeare’s play of magic and illusion, The Tempest, and will be the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

The Tempest is set on a remote island full of strange noises and creatures. Here, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore the fortunes of his daughter Miranda by using magic and illusion — starting with a storm that will bring Antonio, his treacherous brother, to him. All Prospero, the great sorcerer, needs to do is watch as the action he has set in train unfolds.

In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever.

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Hagseed is one of those retellings that is exactly the same as the original but still holds the power to sway you. The Tempest was one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. Filled with a vendetta, revenge, powerful dark magic and the greed for power, The Tempest brings out the worst of human nature.

Hagseed follows the story of an Artistic Director, Felix at the Makeshiweg Festival who has been dismissed for the job he loves so dearly, the job he chose over his 3-year daughter and eventually lost her. The dismissal is a result of a backstabbing by his best employee.

12 years later, Felix finds himself in a correctional facility teaching Shakespeare and recreating his plays with a bunch of prisoners. 12 years later, he also finds a way to plot his revenge. As he navigates himself between directing a perfect play and directing the perfect revenge, he is drawn towards thinking whether it is all worth the risk.

Hagseed in an elaborate and well-planned revenge, that will keep us at the edge yet help us connect to the characters at an emotional level. The switch between creativity and mischief is smooth. The plot does get monotonous at times and since there are a lot of characters, it’s sometimes difficult to remember everyone and their multiple aliases.

What I loved the most is that the author has also presented a character sketch of all the important characters in the play The Tempest and shown how faint the line between good and bad it. The story focusses on reasons a person is built a particular way or does certain things again and again which only makes us question and later, understand the characters more.

Hagseed is a healthy mixture of dark and marvelous, reality and illusion.



Purchase Links:                           |Amazon Paperback|



10 thoughts on “Book Review: HagSeed by Margaret Atwood|The Tempest Retelling|

  1. Lovely review. Have you read “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Alias Grace” by Atwood? Both are highly recommended. 🙂


  2. I actually haven’t read The Tempest yet, but I am going to be reading it this year as I am taking a module in university where I will be reading a lot of Shakespeare plays, that one included! I am looking forward to it, especially as you love it so much. Maybe after a while I will read this retelling too. I am curious how it is the same but still so moving in its own way too.

    Liked by 1 person

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