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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep and Thorny Way - Cat Winters

Punctuated with historical photos, this YA historical fiction with supernatural elements is a re-imagining of Hamlet told in prohibition era Oregon. Instead of a rich white man who can't commit to anything, we have a young, biracial girl who cannot trust anyone.

 

The further I got into this book, the more I liked it. It isn't strictly a retelling of the play, but it does reuse certain plot points as Hanalee tries to figure out what really happened the night her father, a black man married to a white woman, died. The official version is that he succumbed to injuries from a car accident where he was struck by a drunk driver, but the recently released boy has a different story, and her father's ghost walks the streets at night, restless. Her search will uncover other crimes from that same night and reveal the activities and interests of the KKK in her small town. 

 

The places where this runs parallel to Hamlet are interesting in their inversion of the power and privilege of the two characters. The places where this deviates from Hamlet are the best, though. Hanalee doesn't talk in riddles, is up front with her mother about her suspicions, and knows how to aim a gun and when to pull a trigger. 

 

I read an ARC and I am now looking forward to reading reviews when it's out in March.

 

ETA a spoiler to address Merle's comment below since afaik I can't do so in the comments. 

No. Basically after act III, plot elements are only tangentially related. Also, while there is a ghost, there is also a living character who accuses her stepfather of murdering her father. 

(show spoiler)