Kidz Book Buzz Blog Tour: Something Wicked (Review)

I don’t know. Maybe as a girl, I take them for granted.

But I’m just not that into breasts.

The Scottish Highland Festival in Tennessee is all set to begin, but there’s one problem: Duncan MacRae, founder of the games, has just been murdered. The police arrested Malcolm, Duncan’s son, but is he really the killer? Horatio Wilkes, for one, has doubts.

Horatio is attending the festival with his childhood friend Mac, Mac’s super-hot yet controlling girlfriend Beth, and geeky sidekick Banks. Once there, he quickly finds himself caught up in the cutthroat world of the Scottish games, where fair is foul and foul is fair . . . and his best friend may yet turn out to be his worst enemy.

My sister (18) is Diana Barry. I warned her, “I don’t think you’re gonna like Something Wicked. I am callous. You are white as the driven snow. It’s a slippery book.” She tried it anyway.

I was right.

It’s a story I enjoyed, chuckled over, stayed up late to finish, but unlike Something Rotten, will have a difficult time putting in the hands of patrons. Yes, boys encounter much worse on the internet, maybe in real life, but why encourage sensual trains of thought? At one point Horatio makes the comment, “We’re teenagers. It’s not like we can turn off the hormones.” Agreed. But you don’t have to gun them.

Morality aside,* I love the way Gratz splices Shakespearean pastiche and murder mystery. My all-time favorite tragedy—Macbeth—gets dunked in the 21st century, and the result is one bloody week of Scottish Highland Games. Allusions abound: a psychic named Madame Hecate, a grouchy motel manager, a foothill called Birnam Mountain. As with the novel’s predecessor, Something Rotten, Gratz twists a familiar story until we see with fresh eyes, and feel anew the tragedy of death.

There were times I wished Gratz wasn’t so blatant—when Beth trips over her boyfriend’s dog and yells, “Out, out—damn Spot!” I would have been happier with, “Damn it, Spot, get out of my way!” We readers like a little brainwork now and then.

It was interesting to see how Gratz tied Horatio Wilkes, a character from Hamlet, into the story of Macbeth. The Wilkes surname, it seems, traces back to the Macduff clan. So despite being spawned by a different drama, Horatio plays a crucial role in this chapter of the series. Whether Gratz will continue to integrate Horatio remains to be seen—his next book, Something Foolish, parodies A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

*That’s a joke.

No comments: