A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison – [Book Review]

Expected publication: September 1st 2013
by Carolrhoda Lab
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for my honest review

“There’s a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.
Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.
Now, in the wake of the Headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster’s ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.
At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster’s grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.
Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison’s dark and sensuous debut novel, the name “Ophelia” is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as “Hamlet”.”

A Wounded Name has on of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen in a long time. Even if I didn’t know it was a modern retelling of Hamlet, I would have been drawn by it’s soft colors, the violets (of course) and the sadness that seems to emanate from it. I’ve been out of school for quite some time, and I’m not even positive that we read Hamlet, so I did a little brushing up on the Shakespeare original, just to make sure I had an idea of what I was going into. I absolutely, completely LOVED Dot Hutchison’s, and Ophelia’s, version. My heart ached so, so much while reading this book. For Hamlet, for Ophelia, for Horatio… It all just gripped me in such a strange way.

Being in Ophelia’s head was fascinating. Seeing why she was so different than the others… I just loved her. The way Hutchison wrote Ophelia was so lyrical and beautiful and haunting. The way Ophelia talked about her mother and ‘the cold place’ tore my heart in two. Then on top of that, there’s Dane. Completely distraught by his father’s death, he’s got some serious issues going on. I literally felt torn apart as his grip on sanity deteriorated. He abused Ophelia over and over, and even though I knew it was just a story, I kept getting angry that no one was saying anything about it. Ophelia would let him do things to her to ‘take his pain’, but it wasn’t right. Then, finally, someone did. Horatio really was the best of them. It was just really hard to watch Dane and Ophelia self-destruct, each in their own ways, but also as they slowly destroyed each other. I have so many quotes highlighted that I’ll add once I get a finished copy, but seriously, they are the most beautiful lines ever.

If you enjoy retellings or even just poetically inspired stories, PLEASE read A Wounded Name. Its gorgeous and tragic, and you need to experience it.

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