Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

3 stars DNF

I read an excerpt, an incredibly long and misleading excerpt that must have been around 200 pages, of this novel. If I had known that I was reading an excerpt and not the full novel I would have DNFed it. However, I will be considering this novel read because I have no desire to pick up the entire novel. I’m massively peeved about this and I feel like I wasted a large chunk of my time reading a novel that I thought was the first in the series and now I know why I felt like I was reading so much exposition. I was wondering why new characters were being introduced 98% into the novel and it’s because my ARC copy was only excerpt. I have a lot of problems with this novel that goes beyond feeling betrayed the publisher and mislead because when I downloaded the copy it did not state that was excerpt until AFTER the publication date did this become a subtitle on my Netgalley dashboard.

Moving on, this is a standalone retelling of King Lear by William Shakespeare. I am a massive King Lear fan and I think it is one the easier plays of Shakespeare’s as well as being overall brilliant in concept and themes. I have a great passion for Lear and so when I saw that there was a fantasy retelling coming out for this novel I was excited and intrigued.

A Breakdown of the Pros and Cons of this novel:
There are talking trees and magical elements that are vastly fascinating. However, if I’m being honest these magical elements did not seem fully expanded upon and they lacked believability within the world created.
Gaela, Regan, and Elia sticking close to the original characters, but being heavily expanded upon. I always associated Goneril with gonorrhea and she was easily my most hated character of the original play, but Gaela is much more human and she is a force to be reckoned with. I also greatly dislike her, but I dislike her actions not her character and that is a huge plus. Regan stays true to the original Regan, but she is much more fleshed out. Regan struggles with miscarriages and failed pregnancies and it really makes her devotion to Gaela real and understandable. Whereas in the original play, it just is. Elia does stay true to Cordelia in a sense, but she is easily the most boring of the sisters. I loved Cordelia, but I can barely stand Elia. I think Gratton struggled with this character.
The best thing about the original play is the Fool. Gratton stays true to the Fool’s wise, but confounding phrases and it is so enjoyable.
My favorite line from King Lear is in the opening scene when Cordelia tells Lear “Nothing, my lord.” When she is asked how much she loves him. I loved the way the scene was done in this retelling. It’s told from the PoV from the Fool’s daughter (who does not exist in the play) and it is done so brilliantly. It was the part of this entire excerpt I read. The problem is that it occurred 50% through the 200 pages I read.
The lyrical prose is trying too hard. I love lyrical prose, but I also know that not all writers are able to capture this style with grace and ease. Gratton is one of those authors who struggles. A vast majority of her descriptive language is redundant and pointless. Early on, I considered DNFing because of the style, but I pushed on because I love King Lear and wanted to see how it would end. I didn’t even get a conclusion, so I should’ve just DNFed.

I’m mainly disappointed because I don’t know how Gratton approaches Gloucester losing his eyes, the Edmund obsession that all the sisters eventually acquire and the death of everyone. I really just want to know how everything is handled so send me spoilers because I won’t be seeking out this novel to find out.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 3.5

Plotastic Scale: 4

Cover Thoughts: It’s so wonderful to see PoC hands on the cover of an adult fantasy novel.

Thank you, Netgalley and Tor, for providing me with an excerpt of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Have you picked up The Queens of Innis Lear or plan to? What are some of your favorite Shakespeare retellings? Let me know down below in the comments!

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