February 12, 2014
Title: Such Sweet Sorrow
Author: Jenny Trout ♥ @Jenny_Trout
February 4, 2014
Publisher: Entangled TEEN
Genre(s): Young Adult ♥ Fantasy ♥ Romance
Summary from Goodreads: Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…
But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure and the chance to avenge his father’s death.
In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants, and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price…
Average Goodreads Rating (as of 02/08/2014): 3.59
- Christina thought this title was a good variation on the Romeo & Juliet retelling front. It goes on her third shelf.
**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
♠ Initial Thoughts and Rating:
3 stars! I feel like my rating doesn’t really reflect the worth of this novel. I applaud the author for her imaginative reworking and creative intertwining of the storylines of the Bard’s plays, nice storytelling, and good characters. However, there was something about the book that dragged and inevitably failed to resonate with me.
♠ The Lowdown: You know the tragedy of Romeo & Juliet’s star-crossed love story, but you’ve never read one quite like this. In Trout’s retelling, Romeo didn’t perish because of the poison and he was saved- though the poison still manages to wreak havoc on his body and leave him weak- by Friar Lawrence. Completely distraught over the loss of his love’s life, he seeks the aid of a witch and learns that his beloved is there in the underworld, alive but tormented because of her suicide on Earth. Vowing to rescue her, the witch sends him on a quest to find the seat of the crown of a murdered king. She states that he’ll gain access to the underworld there.
After much traveling, Romeo and the trusted Friar Lawrence find themselves in a alehouse inside of Denmark and conveniently placed aside a drunken Hamlet who is just been burdened with his own task, seek revenge for the treacherous murder of his father and protect the portal that leads to the Afterjord. What once was supposed to be a duel between Hamlet and Romeo soon becomes an agreement. Hamlet will show Romeo the portal and after he rescues Juliet, he must come back and share all that he had uncovered in the Afterjord.
But, of course, these things never go as planned.
♠ My Thoughts: Every part of my brain wanted to rejoice when I read the summary of this book. There’s Shakespeare’s known characters and a fun interweaving of their plots, adventure and camaraderie in the underworld, the introduction of Norse mythology and I was giddy and ready to go. Only, I guess I wasn’t, because I often found excuses to keep putting the book down. I never had that need to keep turning the pages, and I can’t really pinpoint why that is exactly, which makes this the worst review to read (and write) ever. Honestly, I will definitely be placing all the blame of my inability to connect to this book on me. The author did a great job delivering the plot and using both well-known plays simultaneously while making them completely new and fun. The characters were enjoyable and believable. Her description of the Afterjord and all its inhabitants were imaginative and accurate. So, I just know that it’s me in this case. I just failed to like it as much as I thought I would.
I will note here two issues that I think may have caused me problems with my overall enjoyment of Such Sweet Sorrow. The biggest one was that I felt like I needed a refresher course in the AP English 4 class I took my senior year in high school. This book, especially in regards to the Afterjord, is filled with figures from old literature, lore, and Norse mythology- Odin, Hildr and the other Valkyrie warriors, etc. While Trout does a wonderful job of using these characters’ plights as an aid to her story, even with brief descriptions of their role in the underworld, if you aren’t really familiar with them, it can all go above your head a bit. My only other tiny issue with this book was that I felt like the author had us rely a little too heavily on our former knowledge of the characters’ personalities as Shakespeare had written them in the beginning. When she finally undertook their development along the way on their journey (somewhere toward the middle), I felt like the depth she was trying to give them through the lessons that they learned in their travels came off as a bit… odd. (Maybe even a tad fake?) That paired with the fact that this was written in third person made it more difficult for me to connect to these characters beyond the identity I’d already given them in Shakespeare’s work.
NOTE: Though the ending isn’t cliffhanger-ish, it does leave the reader with the impression that the author is hoping to turn this into more than a stand-alone.
♠ Rec It? Possibly. Like I stated earlier, don’t let my rating or the issues I had with this novel deter you from reading it if the summary catches your attention. I definitely feel like there’s a great story here, I just personally failed to be captivated by it.
♠ A very special thanks to EntangledTEEN for providing me with an eARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.