Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Rose and Poe by Jack Todd


Rose and Poe is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, from the point of view of Caliban and his mother.

Before I begin this review, I just want to say that I have never read the Tempest, or at least if I have I don’t remember reading it, so I can’t compare the adaptation or anything. For that, you’ll have to read it yourself (and The Tempest, I guess, if you aren't familiar with it). What I can do is tell you if it’s an enjoyable read, which it is.

The plot is fairly straightforward, about a sexual assault trial and trying to catch the actual perpetrator. It’s not a complex mystery case or anything like that, as the plot is mostly a backdrop for the characters and the setting, which are Todd’s strengths in this book. Rose and Poe are based on Caliban and his mother from The Tempest, and my guess is they are background characters in that play. Todd does an excellent job of bringing them to the forefront, developing their characters and making the reader empathize with them. I think Rose’s love and protection for her son are what make it easy to side with her and Poe. The alternating perspectives also provide a more rounded picture of the characters and the events that take place.

Todd's other strength is his setting; he has a way of perfectly describing the scene, which also has the effect of setting the tone for various events. His descriptions of the storm that takes place in the middle of the book are spine-chilling.

One of my favourite things about Rose and Poe, however, is the slight sprinkle of magic that Todd writes in the book, from a speedy delivery “sprite” called Airmail, to Poe’s giant qualities, to a walking staff that seems to hold more power than an ordinary staff should. The magic seems both everyday and slightly out of place to the characters in this book, which makes the setting all the more intriguing. All in all it was just a fun, suspenseful read and I encourage you to pick it up.

Rose and Poe on ECW Press
Rose and Poe on Amazon.ca
Rose and Poe on Amazon.com

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