The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes carries the subtitle “Shakespeare turned topsy-turvy” and that is indeed an apt description; this is a book that takes everything you know about Shakespeare and his plays, especially Hamlet and completely turns them on their head. Horatio is a scholar at Wittenberg University, but he is also a poet. When he is commissioned to turn a love story into a play by a baron and his wife Lady Adriane, Horatio never expects for his life to get quite so turned upside down. He meets the beautiful Prince of Denmark, named (you guessed it) Hamlet. What follows is a love circle of Elizabethan proportions, when Horatio and Hamlet begin to see more and more of each other. Lady Adriane, obsessed with Horatio’s love poetry to Hamlet, seduces him into being her lover. When a mysterious man named Shake-Speare enters the picture, things get even more confusing.
When I started reading The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, I really loved it. The beginning is solid and the writing is very readable. Plus there is enough mystery to keep anyone reading. The best part about this book is the way that Hermes takes things that most everyone knows from Shakespeare and cleverly integrates them into the novel. I haven’t read most of Shakespeare’s plays, so I’m sure there were even more references that I didn’t get, but I really enjoyed them when I did. For the most part, I really loved Horatio and he was a wonderful, insecure narrator. Unfortunately, this novel did not quite live up to all of its promise.
Unfortunately, the relationships in this novel confused me. I certainly understood the love that existed between Hamlet and Horatio, it was a touching romance and that was what I really wanted to read about. I did not understand Lady Adriane or her motivations at all, and when everyone starts doing every one else, well then I really didn’t understand anyone’s motivations. That is not to say that I don’t think there shouldn’t have been betrayals, because that’s what makes an interesting story, but there was no reasoning behind them or, if there was, it went completely over my head.
I did not love the alternative perspective that seemed randomly placed within the novel. In terms of a writing technique, it was only useful for one scene. Though I have read Hamlet, which is the most important play you have to have read for this book to be funny, I am less knowledgeable about some of Shakespeare’s other plays and I wonder if that would have made a difference. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed Hermes’s wit and her writing style. I would absolutely be interested in reading her previous novel Careful What You Wish For and anything she writes in the future. There are a lot of folks out there who really loved this novel, but it just didn’t live up to the promise that I had for it at the beginning.
So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR
I received this book as a part of the TLC Book Tour for the novel.