From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-This is a novelized version of Shakespeare's grim tale of the depths to which the lust for power can plunge the human soul. Fourteen-year-old Lady Mary, a ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth, tells of the interweaving of events that cause her master's downfall and thrust her world into turmoil. She is a court favorite, being groomed to be mistress of her own castle when she weds. However, when her father betrays King Duncan and is hanged as a traitor, she is suddenly an outcast–demoted to the position of a mere scullery maid–whose very life is in constant danger. How she grows from being a pampered child to a young woman of strength and courage who must face her fate and try to prevent more lives from being crushed by her power-hungry guardians is the crux of this engaging tale. Both the chapters and their parts are introduced with pertinent lines from the play, and the text uses some of the actual dialogue as well. While it may be difficult at first, the language is so interesting and appropriate that readers will soon become comfortable with the elevated tone. Mary's fully developed character is plagued with doubts and fears, yet driven to do what is right and just. As part of the ever-growing genre of prose adaptations of the Bard's works, Cooney's novel can take its place at the top with Lisa Klein's Ophelia
(Bloomsbury, 2006), providing its readers with an engaging, realistic tale that will catapult them toward wanting to experience Shakespeare's original play.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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Inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth
, this novel follows the events of the play through the eyes of Lady Mary, the 14-year-old ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth. Quiet Mary is in a position to engage with various characters--from the kitchen staff to the witches to the Scottish royalty--and observe what goes on around her. After her father is killed as a traitor, Mary becomes vulnerable to the maelstrom of ambition and violence that sweeps through the Scottish court. Cooney writes an involving story that is laced with quotes from the play, but she isn't slavishly bound to the drama. Readers who know Macbeth
will find this a fascinating, humanizing sidelight on the characters, while those new to the story will find Lady Mary's adventures reason enough to enjoy this unusual historical novel. In the appended author's note, Cooney comments on both the historical Macbeth and Shakespeare's play and instructs her audience "Now read Shakespeare's Macbeth
." Given this reader-friendly introduction to the story, they might actually do so. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved