Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

This book combines two amazing things: Margaret Atwood (whom I adore) and The Tempest, my absolute favorite play by Shakespeare. Before I even began reading this story, I knew I would be in love with it. And that’s exactly what happened.

Felix loves his job as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre. So engrossed is he in his work, that he is completely unaware when his devious assistant, Tony, removes him from his position, with the support of the council. Broken, and unable to present his production of The Tempest, Felix exiles himself to a life in rural southern Ontario. His only form of company is his daughter, Miranda, who died 12 years ago. At first, Felix is too depressed to think. But soon he decides that one way or the other, he will get his revenge on those that deposed him. And the means to do so comes in a very unusual form: through a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the Burgess Correctional Institution. After working in this program for a few years, word comes to him that his enemies will be gracing the institution with a visit, placing them within Felix’s reach. With the help of the prisoners, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare for their biggest performance yet. What they don’t know is that Felix has a twist in mind, one that will really teach the audience a lesson.

This novel hit every note perfectly. The characters were perfect. I loved the prisoners, with their swearing and humor, and their depth. Felix was a wonderful protagonist with his strong desire for revenge and his regrets over his daughter. The story itself was spun masterfully: you’ve got the actual production of The Tempest happening but the more you read, the more you realize that Felix might already be (or always has been) Prospero. This is why I love reading Atwood’s books; she makes you think, makes you see side connections, and that just takes the story to a whole other level. It was just a masterful re-telling of a wonderful Shakespearean play. I cannot wait to read the rest of the books that are part of the Hogarth series!

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