Title: The Serpent and the Flower
Author: Madeleine D’Este
Target audience: YA
Confession: I don’t really know Macbeth that well. I don’t really like Shakespeare’s tragedies. And that probably affected by enjoyment of this book. (Someone give me a romcom set around a production of Much Ado About Nothing, please!)
Well, then, Emily, if that’s the case, why did you put your hand up for an ARC of a book about a group of teenagers staging Macbeth?
Well, because while I might have been more into musicals, I was the theatre nerd at school. And I’m honestly surprised haunted theatre stories aren’t more of a thing – that was up my alley, too. I love theatre ghost lore. Also the cover is gorgeous.
Madeleine D’Este definitely does creepy well. There’s a seance scene in her novella Evangeline and the Spiritualist that creeped me out completely and that was why that was my favourite of the Evangeline stories. And there are equivalent spooky scenes in this one, too. There are some scenes in this book where characters find themselves alone in the theatre or elsewhere in the school, hearing voices or having chairs pelted at their heads by invisible hands.
The characters certainly had their moments (one of my GoodReads updates was ‘Whoa, Ravenswood, you need to calm down!” and another was “Actors like Violet make me glad I’m only ever in the chorus – no one’s going to want to hurt me for my part”). But for the most part I never really felt like the characters leapt off the page… some of the other reviews have referred to parallels between these characters and those in Macbeth, and perhaps if I had been able to spot those parallels, there would have been some added depth to the characters that I was missing.
My reading experience mostly depends on how invested I am in the characters, but the writing and plotting are both very good, and I think the right reader will definitely enjoy this.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.
This review is part of my 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.