Shakespeare in Hell, a review

First let me apologize about missing “Feeding the Active Writer” this past Monday.  I had nose surgery in mid July and starting this past Thursday I was suddenly having bad nosebleeds, culminating in a trip to the ER and follow up with my ENT.  I appear to have recovered, but still want to take it easy so as to not spring any more leaks. (Red just is not my color.)

I’ll get back to Feeding the Active Writer next week.

Today, it’s “Shakespeare in Hell” by Amy Sterling Casil.

At it’s heart, it’s a basic concept.  Dead people.  In Hell.  However the simplicity ends there.

We start with Bob Haldeman of Watergate infamy near the time of his death receiving a visit from a mysterious woman who shows him a toy from his childhood and speaks to him of magic.  Later, we jump back in time to the same woman–the Dark Lady from Shakespeare’s sonnets–appearing to William near the end of his life and asking him to write one final play.

The story proceeds to Hell itself.  Beelzebub, Satan’s lieutenant, is bored.  Dancers such as Isadora Duncan choreographed by Busby Berkley bore him.  He seeks instead a play and so goes to the “Cave of Writers.”

It is here we meet Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Dark Lady (who is a writer herself) and are offered a chance to escape from Hell if they can write a play that pleases Lord Beelzebub.  Is this true or is it another lie from the Lord of Lies?

Enter William Shakespeare as the story delves into each of the main characters as they seek their paths to either redemption or an even more terrible Hell than the one they already endure.

It’s a story about hope and despair, about damnation and redemption, and how the difference between lies within each individual.

Five stars.

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