i haven't been this divided on a goodreads' rating in a long, long time. and it's one of the rare occasions where i feel goodreads would really benefit from a half star rating.
the expense of spirit:
1. i'm a sucker for any mystery book that envelops art, literature, and history. it lured me in with the da vinci code and it lured me in here. i like it when my mysteries feel "smart" - it's the lit snob in me.
2. the creepy murders in the style of shakespearean tragic heroes/heroines - oddly, this was a plus for me. how cool, if not twisted, a concept than to have a sociopath mirroring key scenes from the bard. half the "fun" was seeing if i could figure out who the victims were before kate could.
3. it was a page-turner. i wanted to know, even though i had a good guess, how things would play out...anytime a book can do that, i feel like it has to be at least partially successful.
the waste of shame:
1. like the da vinci code, the "whodunnit" factor on this one is small. you will have a pretty good idea who the hell kate should and should not be trusting LONG before she does. and, considering that she's one of the top occultist shakespearean scholars, it's a bit distressing that she can't see a conspiracy brewing before her very eyes. in fact, i'd go so far as to say that carrell doesn't work hard enough to make this a much vaster departure from "the da vinci code" - if dan brown couldn't fool me with his plot twists, do you think you can when you regurgitate them???
2. cardenio. SIGH. i love shakespeare. i do. and i'm even game to the possibility that there are plays out there that we may never, ever see. but i'm so done with the whole "cardenio" myth. i am. i've read the books, i've seen the anagrams, i get the conspiracy theories, i totally do. but let sleeping playwrights lie.
3. the format. it was...odd. the novel was broken up into acts, each act containing several chapters and an interlude. while i get the whole "five act/shakespeare" thing, the "happy ending" after all the death and mayhem made the parallel way too complicated to sustain. carrell should have self-edited...it's a cute idea, but so not necessary... and it left me feeling like the whole novel was one of shakespeare's weird "romances" - undefinable in genre, tone, mood, and plot. the interludes, brief flashes back to shakespeare's aging past, also did nothing to further the plot. while interesting, they felt more like parts of another story carrell wanted to tell, a tangent in an already too convoluted thesis. now that's something i know about.
an interesting if imperfect book. i'll read the sequel. hell, it's about macbeth.