Sunday, April 25, 2010

Haunt Me Still, (Dutton), by Jennifer Lee Carrell

In the follow-up to her internationally best-selling debut “Interred With Their Bones”, Jennifer Lee Carrell tackles perhaps one of the best known – and most chilling – Shakespearean legends: the curse of Macbeth. “Haunt Me Still” is just as sharp and scholarly as “Interred” but darker, more foreboding as sometime Shakespearean investigator Kate Stanely once again plunges after a lost play, this time Shakespeare's original version of “Macbeth”, for rumors whisper that it contains ancient rites not fit for man...dark rites that may conjure up death for an innocent girl...and maybe Kate herself.

At the behest of an old friend, Kate travels to Scotland to meet with a mysterious woman who desires Kate's expertise. Upon arrival, she's shocked to discover the enigmatic “Lady Nairn” is also a long retired, beloved actress who once masterfully portrayed Lady Macbeth on stage. Lady Nairn's husband has recently died under strange circumstances, and she's convinced that at the center of this is a lost version of Shakespeare's “Macbeth”, rumored to have contained ancient rites of witchcraft not meant for man. Lady Nairn's request? That Kate recover the lost play and stage it, with herself reprising the role of Lady Macbeth.

Initially Kate's skepticism overshadows the looming chill of Scotland's rolling landscape, but after a harrowing vision of death – Lady Nairn's daughter Lily, murdered – dark shadows of conspiracy and something else closes in around her. As Kate is drawn deeper into a complex web of deceit, treachery...and, dare she admit, ancient magic?...she flounders, caught in the inexorable grip of a dark inheritance passed down through the centuries.

Carrell's supernatural touches are light but cloying, leaving the reader unsure if the black magic indeed is real or just the conjuring of criminals...but still shivering, all the same. As with “Interred”, a Carrell Shakespearean mystery is not only enthralling and entertaining but educational also. With deft strokes Carrell makes Shakespeare's legacy just a touch darker, but that seems fitting for a playwright that everyone knows but about whom little is really known, a writer who virtually appeared from nowhere – almost conjured from mist – to change the course of literary history.

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1 comment:

August said...

This book is is Jennifer Lee Carrell. I went to a book reading of hers last night and highly recommend Haunt Me Still and her others. Can't-put-them-down-ers for sure. :)