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Book Review | Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

hagseedWhen Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?

This was my first Margaret Atwood book, and I fell in love with it! This was such a creative reimagining of William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”!

The books not exactly a retelling of “The Tempest” as it follows Felix Phillips, a deposed Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his assistant. He is essentially exiled, and over the years, he begins to plot his revenge. Nine years into his exile, he begins to work at the nearby correctional facility with the medium-risk prisoners, in the literacy program. Completely disregarding the program that previous educators had used for the inmates, he decides that Shakespeare is the ultimate tool for learning, and proceeds to have them put on plays of Shakespeare, while interpreting the characters. They film it in scenes to be shown to the whole jail, and thus 3 years go by. 12 years after being deposed, he learns that his nemesis is going to be touring the jail with his co-conspirator, and he begins to enact his revenge.

This is ultimately, like the play, a revenge story, where Felix can finally get even with the man who exiled him at a weak point in his life to the boonies. It was unputdownable! I blew through this brilliantly told tale.

This book is part of the Hogarth Shakepeare project, which are retellings of Shakespeare’s plays. I can’t wait to read the ones that have already been released, and look forward to those coming out!

My Rating: 



  1. I have to put this on my list. I studied The Tempest at school and, largely thanks to a brilliant English teacher, it’s still one of my favourite plays. I’ve found Atwood’s books either hit or miss in the past, so I’m really glad you enjoyed this one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: This Week in Books | 11.30.16 | Darcy's Book Blog

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