Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

13576618From 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”.


Though Hamlet is not necessarily my favorite, Dot Hutchison’s A Wounded Name takes a very interesting look at Hamlet from Ophelia’s point-of-view, interspersing some aspects of fantasy in order to give it a little lighter feel when explaining Ophelia’s final choice in the end.  Of course, there are liberties taken and events out of sequence, with Ophelia present for confrontations that she wasn’t present for in the Bard’s play, etc., but overall it’s a good rendition that paints Hamlet in a darker, abusive light, much more so than in the original play, in my opinion.  It does end with Ophelia’s death, but it’s not really a sad occurrence as Ophelia is moving on to what seems like a better place, a place brought up time and time again within the novel, adding elements of fantasy and myth where they weren’t originally, but working very well overall.

To be honest, the only issue I really had with this novel was the back and forth nature of the characters’ language.  At times it was modern, and at others it took on a more archaic feel, and that was jarring for me as a reader.  I really think it should have been all or nothing, and since this is a modern story set in an American boarding school, I would have liked it all to be in modern language instead of morphing back and forth throughout the characters’ discussions.

But overall, A Wounded Name is a good story, and I really enjoyed the element of fantasy that Hutchison added in, especially as the water calls to Ophelia from the very beginning, paving the way for the end.  And, the fact that this novel followed Ophelia, giving readers glimpses into her mind and her actions when she’s technically offstage in the Bard’s play was fascinating for me, especially because I’m always interested to know what the other characters are thinking and feeling when I read a novel.

I plan to recommend this novel to my students as we study Hamlet because it really does follow the play quite well and adds insight in places where the play leaves the reader wondering, and I think this might just make them a little more interested in Shakespeare.  Three stars.

3 stars

Lerner Publishing Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 1, 2013.

et cetera
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