I’ve mentioned it before, but I go in “blind” with almost every book I borrow from the library. It encourages me to select books I never would have otherwise because of perceptions of a genre or a style. This was the case for Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland. I picked up this novel for two reasons:
- I needed spooky books for my October “horror” series, and well…this book does have “undead” right in the title.
- The book cover features Shakespeare with vampire fangs, and apparently that’s all the convincing I need.
Shakespeare Undead certainly did not sweep me off my feet like other books I’ve picked up from the library. The writing was inconsistent; one chapter the language is strong, charming, and poetic, and the next it was lackluster and too modern for the Elizabethan era. There were not nearly enough zombies for my personal taste and the vampire lore seemed pretty standard, although luckily Billy Shakes didn’t sparkle in sunlight. And then of course there was the romance, which I acknowledge is my fault, not the authors. I just find it hard to get swept up in the fantasy of romance novels. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I usually become overly critical about romantic tension in books. Like, how does sexytime with vampires even work? He doesn’t have a heart beat, which means blood isn’t pumping, so then how does…nevermind, nevermind…BUT REALLY, HOW?!
Despite my issues with the book, I still really enjoyed it.
I appreciated the novelty of it. Had the story been about any other vampire, I would have given up at the first hint of lust or blushing cheeks. But, it wasn’t just any vampire. It was William freaking Shakespeare, which means the reader gets special insight into the bard’s mind and inspiration for his plays and sonnets.
I appreciated that this book didn’t fit in with just one genre. At its core Shakespeare Undead is a romance, but it also features elements from horror, historical fiction, and fantasy.
I appreciate the dual narrators— William Shakespeare and his dark lady, Kate. Although, I wasn’t really certain why Kate’s narration was in first person, while William Shakespeare’s was in 3rd person limited.
Most of all, I appreciated Kate, the female lead. She totally kicks butt! Actually, she’s a zombie slayer, so she beheads zombies, but that’s not the point. She’s up for adventure and saving the world; how can I resist?
Had I read reviews for Shakespeare Undead, I never would have picked up the book. Had I known Lori Handleland was a best-selling romance writer, I would have shrunk back like a spooked black cat and hissed. And that would have been unfortunate; this book is absolutely worth a read!
Have you ever read a book from a genre you’re reluctant to read only to find yourself enjoying the book?
Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handleland
Released: June 2010
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
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Synopsis: William Shakespeare was one of history’s greatest writers, a master of words with a body of work that is truly impressive . . . some may say a little too impressive for a single man to accomplish in one lifetime. Perhaps, as many have speculated, he had assistance. Or perhaps the explanation is more . . . unusual.Who was William Shakespeare?Who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets?Why are the undead stalking the alleyways of London? And can they be stopped? Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. So brace yourself for a wild ride through twisted streets and shadowed graveyards of Elizabethan London, where you’ll discover how the Bard got his Bite.
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