Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is one book that is not to be missed if you are a fan of Shakespeare and his plays. Margaret Atwood has crafted an interesting and creative revisiting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in this 4th book in the Hogarth Shakespeare series. This book actually is a story within a story that has a familiar setting and cast of colourful characters.

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret AtwoodTitle: Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Series: Hogarth Shakespeare #4
Author: Margaret Atwood
Also by this author: The Heart Goes Last (Positron)
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Rating: five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

William Shakespeare's The Tempest retold as Hag-Seed

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It's magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.


❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

The whole concept of this book is so unique and will really blow your mind. The main character in Hag-Seed, Felix, was an artistic director of a Shakespeare festival who winds up teaching inmates English through the use of Shakespeare’s plays. While Felix is seeking his own revenge, the original Shakespeare play about revenge, The Tempest, is being explored and examined by the inmates. It is so fantastic how Atwood has provided readers with so much detail about the original play and Shakespeare as well. It is like being a student in Atwood’s class, learning about the techniques and methods Shakespeare used in writing The Tempest.

❀ Nostalgic Setting

Another aspect of this story that I found personally exciting was the setting for this story. While Atwood never mentions Stratford, Ontario, she does imply its proximity in some of her descriptions and the small town of Wilmot in which Felix moves to. Anyone familiar with this Canadian Shakespeare town will find a sense of nostalgia while reading. I could definitely picture the countryside and all of those theatregoers licking ice cream cones.

❀ Classic Atwood

Also, the characters that Atwood has created for this retelling are absolutely wonderful and are definitely classic Atwood. There are so many interesting inmates with colourful backgrounds and a different way of life. While reading the acknowledgments, I discovered that Atwood has so much knowledge about prison life from her research for her novel, Alias Grace. These inmates are so believable and they have incredible personalities that really add to the whole flavour of the story. From their Shakespearean swearing to the rap songs that they sing, the book just has so many laugh out loud moments.

❀ Enjoyable Retelling

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is perfect for anyone who is unsure about reading a retelling of any Shakespeare play, this is one that should be picked up. Atwood really does an amazing job of keeping the original play intact, while providing the reader with a new story that is related to the play all at the same time. This book is a very enjoyable and brilliant way to reimagine Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Book Quotes: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

The muscles in her sinewy arms are clearly visible.

“Whoa,” says a voice. “That’s …what the pied ninny is this?”

“She could tear a whoreson strip off you!”

“She’s got a plaguey tattoo!”

“Poisonous poxy!”

“What’s it scurvy about?”


About Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.


About Lori

Avid reader. Contributor to The Candid Cover. Educator.

15 thoughts on “Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

  1. Maggie says:

    I am so thrilled that you gave Hag-Seed 5/5 stars! I’m reading my ARC of it today and I’m excited at the prospect of having my mind blown! Happy reading! 😀

    • Candid Cover says:

      I do think that many people might shy away from this genre. I am really impressed with Atwood’s ability to reinvent, yet not change the original. The best of both worlds, really! Enjoy! 🙂

  2. dianadimovska1 says:

    I am a huge fan of Margaret Atwood, she is such an amazing woman. This august she was visiting our country. but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go and see her. She was this year’s laureate of the Struga Poetry Evenings (SPE) and received the Golden Wreath Award. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book, her writing always leaves me speechless! 🙂

    • Candid Cover says:

      To be honest, there have been quite a few opportunities for me to meet Atwood and I have yet to meet her! A friend of mine saw her read an excerpt of one of her novels and she was awe struck by her. Some day I am sure that we will both get a chance to meet her. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did! 🙂

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