Meg's Reviews > The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet

The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes
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's review
Apr 08, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, read-in-2010, sent-for-review
Read from April 08 to 14, 2010

Myrlin A. Hermes’ The Lunatic, The Lover, And The Poet is a novel twist on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and his many sonnets, written on Shakespeare’s mysterious “Dark Lady” and an androgynous young man. With deft prose and a wildly entertaining storyline, Hermes definitely manages to take much of what I knew about the Bard and turn it “topsy-turvy,” just as the cover boasts.

I’ve read reviews stating at least a working knowledge of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is required to enjoy the novel. I can certainly understand where those readers coming from, but I actually didn’t find my lack of knowledge to be a disadvantage. I knew little of Hamlet beyond the famous “to be or not to be” spiel -- and still found plenty to love in the novel. At several points, it became obvious that inside jokes and references to the original work were carefully woven into many pages -- though I couldn’t fully appreciate them without being more comfortable with the original story.

Still, I can say honestly that once I sunk into The Lunatic, The Lover, And The Poet, it was difficult to put down. I’ll contribute my obsession with the story to Horatio’s obsession with Prince Hamlet; my interest was really piqued right around that point, too. The way that Hamlet is described makes it difficult to not fall a little in love with him, too, even with all his preening, selfishness and narcissism. And for all the gloom and seriousness embodied in Horatio’s character, Hermes’ writing was surprisingly light, fun and artful.

In fact, the writing was what I loved most about the story. Hermes finds a way to blend Shakespearean-like prose with modern terms in a way that’s shockingly not jarring -- and actually made the tale feel more “modern,” though of course it’s set in Shakespeare’s day. For all his faults and silliness, I found myself oddly endeared to Horatio, the prince and Lady Adriane, even when I wanted to clock each of them on the side of the head for their foolish decisions.

Hermes captures feelings of uncertainty, joy, selfishness, obsession and jealousy with a truly creative and artful pen. Her novel is a treat for fans of historical fiction and, most especially, lovers of classic tales retold. Fans of Hamlet will definitely appreciate the book in a different way than the rest of us... but for the rest of us? A rollicking good time.

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Reading Progress

04/10/2010 page 30
04/14/2010 page 302
82.74% "Oh, what tangled webs we weave!"
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