Dlora's Reviews > Shakespeare's Counselor

Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris
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's review
Oct 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: murder-mystery
Read in October, 2010

Shakespeare's Counselor has nothing to do with Shakespeare (unlike the last book I read). Shakespeare is a small town in Arkansas where Lily Bard has settled down to try to overcome the effects of a horrific rape in her past that has irrevocably changed her life and personality into someone she barely recognizes. This series is one of Charlaine Harris's darker stories because of the psychological damage her main character is dealing with, trying to just to survive each day. In this story, Lily reluctantly joins a rape counseling group to get a handle on her devastating nightmares and the fear and violence they generate in her. The group sessions seem to be helping the attendees but then they learn that their counselor is being stalked when the stalking pattern escalates to the murder of a new member of their group.

Shakespeare's Counselor is not a light-weight, humorous mystery. In fact there is precious little humor at all and Lily's attitude about life and people is a survivalist mentality--hard, realistic, grim, and unhopeful-- not usually the kind of story I like to read, but I admire the determination and hard work Lily is going through to just live; it's a story of redemptive growth. Lily's reaction to her trauma reveals itself in her reluctance to talk with people much or share personal information, she can't stand to be touched or hugged and is "repulsed by people who [are] messy with their emotions", and she has distanced herself from her family despite her love for them. Her way of coping with the scars of her past is to feel in control by working out and becoming physically strong enough to protect herself, keeping her surroundings clean and orderly, and never letting others best her. I tend to only like characters I admire, and I don't necessarily admire Lily, but I understand her coping mechanism and the progress she is making to change herself. In this series, she is moving away from the brink of suicidal self-hatred and pain, horror and fear, just hanging on from minute to minute, then day to day, and finally beginning to find some meaning in life and connection with others. One reviewer described my reaction to these novels: "Lily has such an engaging voice, full of pain and redemption, that the collection of clues and the unfolding of the crime take a back seat to her personal story."

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