by Conor McCreery & Anthony Del Col
I reviewed the first volume of Kill Shakespeare in December 2010. This review may contain minor spoilers for that book.
Hamlet has cast his lot with the Prodigals who rebel against the tyranny of King Richard III. With Juliet, Othello, Falstaff and other Shakespearean heroes, he journeys to the Globe Woods to find the god of their world, William Shakespeare himself. However, there's a traitor in the company's midst, sent by the manipulative Lady Macbeth; she has allied herself with King Richard but plans to steal all power for herself when the final battle between Prodigals and the royal armies has been won. Can her magic and Richard's military tactics be overthrown by a tiny band of rebels? Not bloody likely, especially since their savior Shakespeare is a bit too deep into his cups to be of use to anyone...
I found the conclusion to Kill Shakespeare unsatisfying, and I can't quite put my finger on why.
Perhaps it's the change to Hamlet's personality? In his play, Hamlet is a mopey dopey prince who waffles and flip-flops his way to a tragic end. Not here. Hamlet is recast as a hero, freed at last from the ghost of his father and his crippling indecision. The problem is, he isn't Hamlet anymore, but someone infinitely less interesting. He may save the kingdom and get the girl, but now he's just another typical fantasy-story hero. Juliet is similarly effected; like Hamlet, her tragic past is largely eradicated, and she is greatly reduced in the process.
Maybe it's the appearance of William Shakespeare as the literal deus ex machina. I don't want to spoil the ending, so I won't describe it, but I found it completely disappointing. His presence makes the story entirely too self-aware. It does raise an interesting question, though: do characters act as they do because they choose to or because they must – that is, they were written that way? Richard chooses the latter, angrily accusing Shakespeare that if he is evil, it is because he was made to be so. But then again, there are characters like Hamlet and Juliet, who defy the roles given them in the plays.
Can something be simultaneously rushed and dragged out? That's how I felt about this second volume of Kill Shakespeare. The story is left wide open to continue, as one of the villains escapes and lives to threaten the heroes another day, but most of the major plots are tied together rather neatly. As far as I know, the story has not yet been continued into a third volume, but the official website implies that more adventures are forthcoming...
3 out of 5 stars
To read more about Kill Shakespeare Vol. 2, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Video: The Joy of Books
2011: Closing down for end of the year Festivus...
2010: Sticklers, Sideburns and Bikinis By Graeme Donald
2009: Discussion Question: Buying Textbooks