A legendary theatrical curse.... A rune-engraved blade, a mysterious mirror, and an ancient cauldron... And a ritually murdered body laid out in the manner of ancient pagan burials.
Kate Stanley, Jennifer Lee Carrell's dauntless Shakespearean scholar- turned-director, made a memorable debut in Interred with Their Bones. Having chased down her mother's killer (and recovering one of Shakespeare's lost plays in the process), Kate's fame as a director with an expertise in "occult Shakespeare" catapults her - and Ben Pearl, her partner in crime-solving - into a new production of Macbeth.
The Bard's darkest play is famously cursed, its reputation for malevolence so strong that many actors refuse to quote or even name the play aloud. And as rehearsals begin at the foot of Scotland's Dunsinnan Hill, it doesn't take long for the curse to stir. Strange references to the boy actor who first played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's day - and died in the role - pop up. A trench atop Dunsinnan Hill is found filled with blood, and a severed human thumb turns up among the props. And Kate begins sleepwalking, waking early one morning alone atop the hill, her hands smeared in blood.
Kate has no memory of how she got there, but later that day a local woman is found dead on the hill in circumstances that suggest not just ritual murder but ancient pagan sacrifice.
With the police more focused on Kate as a suspect than as a possible future victim, she and Ben find themselves in a desperate race to discover a lost version of Macbeth, said to contain rituals of witchcraft aimed at conjuring demonic forces to gain forbidden knowledge. However much Kate would like to dismiss such rituals as superstition, someone else appears willing to kill for them - and for the manuscript said to spell them out.
©2010 Jennifer Lee Carrell (P)2010 Penguin
I loved the story of INTERR'D WITH THEIR BONES (Carrell's previous novel), but it was hard to make it through the audiobook because the narrator was so poor at accents. I really only made it through because most of the action was set in the United States with American characters. Being American, she was fine with those speakers. England was bad, and then she got to Mexican-American characters who sounded like the Frito Bandito. Terrible! Shameful, really! Directors and producers of audiobooks really need to check out resumes and even possibly audience-test readers who claim to be able to do foreign accents before hiring them. Katherine Kellgren, on the other hand, who narrates HAUNT ME STILL, does a wonderful job with English, Scottish, and American voices. In addition, she just reads very well. For that alone, I'd recommend this novel.
If you want to learn more about Shakespeare the man and author, the witchcraft folklore of Scotland, and listen to a good mystery besides, you'll love this book. I only wish that the protagonist, Kate Stanley, and Ben spent as much time together in this story as they did in the first novel. Can hardly wait for another Kate Stanley mystery. Highly recommended!
Unfortunately for her, the material just wasn't as good as Ms. Carrell's first attempt at a little Shakespearean mystery mixed with Bibliophilia history. This one comes off as way too over the top, involving magic/witchcraft (material much better suited to Fantasy than historical mystery). Sad, since as a Bibliophile myself I enjoyed Ms. Carrell's first book (Interred With Their Bones) a great deal. As usual, however, Ms. Kellgren proves herself to be one of the best narrators in the business, and as I said, she does what she can with material not quite up to her impeccable abilities.
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