This book was an amazing retelling of Macbeth that I greatly enjoyed. Based at exclusive prep school Acheron Academy, we are presented with two roommates who are also secretly in a relationship: Maria (Macbeth) and Lily (Lady Macbeth), as well as Maria’s best friend Brandon (Banquo). They are contacting the spirits at the school via Ouija board. After that, a tale of murder, madness, and treachery ensues, delightfully and heartbreakingly transferring the tragedy of Macbeth to a modern, young adult setting.

First off, this book was creepy. Like, not just a little creepy, but SUPER creepy. I finished reading it around 1:00 a.m. and it was a little hard for me to fall asleep afterwards. Shadows became creepy spirits. Translating Macbeth into a ghost story really isn’t that far off the mark, considering the influence of the witches in the original. The spirits, coupled with the fact that Acheron is in the South, lends the story a very gothic feel, and also adds to the air of tragedy surrounding the story.

The story is also told very artfully. I had to read a synopsis of Macbeth before reading to remind myself of the particulars of the story, and I was glad I did, so I could spot all the similarities in the novel. The novel is divided into acts, just like the play, and is pretty faithful to the original version with respect to the contents of each act. One thing that I really liked about the book was the shifting in third person viewpoints. We got omniscient views from Lily, Maria, Brandon, and Mateo (Brandon’s boyfriend), sometimes even getting to see the same interaction from multiple points of view. It lends to the understanding that even the omniscient narrator isn’t always reliable, and contributes to the unsettling nature of the story. There were times I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish, just because I had very visceral reactions to the things that Maria and Lily do. They’re terrible and awful, and yet you can somehow understand them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you like Shakespearean retellings, then this is definitely one you should add to your TBR. It was artfully done, and still manages to be a very engaging young adult story, even if you know nothing of the original play.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More Information: Goodreads, Amazon, Author Website 

What’s your favorite Shakespearean retelling? Do tell me in the comments!! (and anything else you’d like to add, too!)

4 thoughts on “Review: As I Descended by Robin Talley

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