Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Lab, and Netgalley.
A Wounded Name
Blurb (from Goodreads):
There'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".

A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A Wounded Name(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Lab, and Netgalley.)
15-year-old Ophelia lives with her father and her brother following her mother’s suicide, at the illustrious Elsinore Academy, where her father holds an important position.

The headmaster of Elsinore Academy has just died though, and while most think it was a heart attack, Ophelia and the groundskeeper know the truth – Hamlet was murdered.

With Hamlet’s body barely in the ground, his younger brother Claudius steps into his place, not only becoming the new headmaster, but also marrying Hamlet’s widow Gertrude.

In his grief and anger at his mother and uncle’s actions, Dane - Hamlet’s son, takes an interest in Ophelia, against her father’s wishes, but also begins acting bizarrely, leading people to think that he is going mad.
What is wrong with Dane? Did Claudius really murder Hamlet? And are the ghosts of Hamlet that Ophelia sees really real?

This was an interesting story, but I did get confused in places.

Ophelia was quite an odd character. She clearly missed her mother, and she clearly loved Dane, but otherwise she was pretty strange. At one point I wondered if her mother had been some kind of Fae, as she appeared to her and spoke to her in the water where she died, whilst at other times I wondered if she had merely been delusional.
Ophelia herself was on multiple medications to try and control what her family thought of as delusions, whilst in reality she may have had some kind of sight, as she heard fairies, and communed with the dead. Ophelia was quite an odd girl though, with pretty strange thoughts and ideas, and it was easy to get sucked in to her madness.

Some of the other characters in this book really shocked me. Even the idea that a man would kill his own brother to take his position and wife is such a betrayal to me, that I was really quite shocked by just how cunning Claudius could be.
Dane, who did really seem to love Ophelia, in turn seemed equal parts passionate and mad, and it was often difficult to guess his next move.

The storyline in this book is supposed to be a retelling of ‘Hamlet’, although I unfortunately haven’t read Hamlet to be able to compare the two! I do have some idea of the story though, and this didn’t stick exactly to the same storyline as the original.
I found the storyline in this book okay, but it did confuse me in places. I think that the amount of madness and delusions in the story really blurred the lines between what was really happening, and what Ophelia or Dane only thought was happening, which made the story quite confusing at times.

The ending was what I expected to some extent, mainly because the image of Ophelia drowning is quite a famous one, but I was confused as to exactly what happened to lead her to that point. I’m not sure if I missed something or whether I was just confused, but I’m not really sure how we got to the ending we got. I am now quite interested to read the original Hamlet though to find out how it happens in that. Another thing that I will say though, is that I don’t believe that Ophelia’s death is the end of the story in the original, where as it this it is, so I think it’s almost as if the ending from Hamlet is totally missing in this one.

The writing in this one was quite reminiscent of a Shakespeare story, and I thought that the air of madness and mystery was done well throughout. I was unsure about the year and setting for this retelling though, as there were mentions of very modern things, whilst the way that people behaved and spoke was very old-fashioned. I was also unsure of the setting, as I think Hamlet was originally set in Denmark, whilst this seems to be set in America? Both the setting and year were really poorly done, and I found this a bit annoying.
I did like this story overall though, although I think it is maybe supposed to be the kind of book that you puzzle over.
Overall; an interesting, if slightly confusing, retelling of Hamlet.
7 out of 10.


  1. I don't think that this book would be for me, like you mentioned I think I would find so many parts confusing. But I'm glad you enjoyed it overall Sarah! Great review!

  2. i think i'd enjoy this book very much. great review

    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  3. Happy you finally got a good one this time. I think this one sounds awesome.