By Madeleine D’Este
Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural/ Horror
Release date: 4 December 2019 (pre-orders available now)
CREEPY AND WONDERFUL…
I’ve just finished reading an ARC of The Flower and the Serpent by Madeleine D’Este and I am still feeling blown away.
The story is set in a high school in Hobart, Tasmania, where a group of students are rehearsing for a production of Macbeth. The dark history of the play is well-known, and D’Este’s setting – on school grounds haunted by past evil – plays perfectly against it. Imbued with a sense of creeping menace, the novel is genuinely frightening at times, but the characters are never overshadowed by the horror.
And it is the characters that shine so brightly here. Each has their own voice, their own hopes and fears, their own shadow and light. Every character rings true, from ambitious, driven Violet to shy, self-effacing Lila. Practical Holly and logical Angelika are a delight. And the teacher, Mr Ravenswood, is such a brilliant creation. With every character, D’Este forces the reader to look beyond surface judgements, to the true depths of the human heart and soul.
Which is not to say the plot is unimportant. It’s a fantastic story, that twists and turns in surprising ways that are never gimmicky. The climax had me on the edge of my chair, and it totally delivered.
Bottom line: if, like me, you love Macbeth, you’ll adore this. If you despise Shakespeare and all he stands for, you’ll love it anyway.