Written by: Cat Winters
Published: March 8, 2016 by Amulet Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
*** I received and advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
Cat Winter's is an author that has been on my list for awhile now. I've heard great things about her writing and that she has a tendency to write diverse historical fiction. So when I was so excited to pick up The Steep and Thorny Way on Netgalley. And I really enjoyed it. The Steep and Thorny Way is a great piece of historical fiction and an interesting Shakespeare retelling all wrapped together to create something unique and compelling.
And that setting also perfectly fit with the plot of this book. The basis for the plot of the story is the Shakespeare element, specifically Hamlet. I decided to read it as part of my retellings month because I was so excited about the genderbent and diverse Hamlet. It has been awhile since I read Hamlet but the author did a great job of developing a unique and interesting story with the original as it's basis. She actually had me looking up the elements of the original and made me want to reread it. And while it is a loose retelling the comparisons are there and very fitting for this story. Just like Hamlet, this is a story of revenge, of a character who is visited by the ghost of her father who tells her to avenge him. But there is also so much mystery here. The culprit isn't who you think it is and so many of the characters are much more odious than that. The book definitely had me guessing. A few of the twists I had predicted but it was still full of surprises.
But that being said, there was a bit of a disjointed flow or pacing to the story. Maybe it was going for that kind of dramatic or theatrical flow to it because of the Hamlet theme. It did have a bit of that sort of flow. It showed of brief moments and then moved to the next one but there was often little segue. I usually don't go for this kind of format. I feel the disconnect in these cases. But the general pacing od the book was good. It escalated to an interesting conclusion with lots of moments of action of big reveals but along the way to me it just felt like snapshots in time, not necessarily a cohesive progression of the story.
On the whole, this was a good read. It was a dark and gritty historical fiction novel with complex and odious characters and an interesting Shakespeare retelling. I didn't totally love the format but the storytelling was good and it makes me want to read more Cat Winters books.
Have you read The Steep and Thorny Way? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!