Review: A Wounded Name (Dot Hutchinson)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 320
Genre: retelling (Shakespeare), paranormal
Source: eARC from Netgalley

A Wounded NameThere's a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.
Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster's sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster's ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster's grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.
Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison's dark and sensuous debut novel, the name "Ophelia" is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as "Hamlet".

Let me start by saying that this cover sucked me in. It's gorgeous! Then I read the summary and realized it was a retelling of Hamlet. I am a sucker for retellings of the classics. I love the fresh spins they bring when they are done correctly.

Unfortunately, I would not consider this one "done correctly." I tried. I truly did. I even made it to 81% complete before I just couldn't stand to read further. I finally gave up because, indeed, I do know how this story ends so I didn't feel the need to continue.

My biggest complaint with A Wounded Name was Ophelia herself. What an absolute mess. She took so much physical abuse from Hamlet that I found myself deeply annoyed with her. Maybe I was missing this whole victim mentality because that is not who I am, but it didn't seem right. He would choke her and leave bruises (and at times all but force himself on her) and she went along with it. She'd complain to herself about the abuse, but say she loved him soooo much that it was basically okay for him to do it because it was "her pain to carry"-- or some load of crap similar to that. All that being said, she came across as weak and pathetic. I read another retelling of Hamlet a few years back titled Ophelia that was incredible. That Ophelia was everything the foil to Hamlet should be. This mess of a girl was too pitiful to side with.

The writing also slowed me up at times. It was flowery and fluent, but also too much at times. I loved the poetic quality of some of the descriptions, but at times it seemed too long winded. I can say the author did a fine job of finding ways to use actual lines from the play in the book. Having them be spoken by Dane (aka Hamlet) during his bouts of craziness gave it a nice touch.

The paranormal element that was working in the story never fit for me. I see the ratings for the book are at 4.03 on Goodreads, so it obviously worked for others! I just don't know why I couldn't buy into it. Of course, I also did not finish this book so maybe I missed out on that critical piece. That may be too bad for me, because I have no plans to go back and finish those 50 or so remaining pages.


Bookworm1858 said... .

Sorry this didn't really work for you-I remembered Ophelia/Hamlet's relationship as being pretty messed up in the play so I guess that helped it make sense in this context?

August 31, 2013 at 1:49 AM

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