Cover Image: That Way Madness Lies

That Way Madness Lies

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Member Reviews

This was a very creative and fun anthology of Shakespeare retellings. Most of the characters were fun reimaginings of Shakespeare's famous characters and each had distinct and intriguing personalities that drew me into their characters. There was also a lot of diversity in the characters as well. There was the drama and some slight romance and most had a good plot. Most of the stories were good but some were slow paced and didn't hold my attention. Overall, it was a pretty good anthology and I was impressed by the writing. I would recommend this and can't wait to see more from these authors.
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That Way Madness Lies turns Shakespeare on his head while still maintaining the spirit of his stories. I look forward to pairing these stories with the text of the plays when I'm working with students!
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I loved this collection of short stories based on Shakespeare plays - the writing was so fun.  Highly recommend for any library. It will help students and teens set Shakespeare - especially his lesser known plays - into a modern environment.  Kind of like what 10 Things I Hate About You and She's the Man did.
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I enjoyed this anthology a lot, especially as a long time Shakespeare nerd. My heart was very excited for every single story in here, and though I definitely had my favorites I can’t say I disliked any of them really. My rating might change as I go through reach story in depth for my blog but as of now I really enjoyed the anthology as a whole.

My favorites were the ones that unsettled, make me feel floaty and out of my bones the way the best of Shakespeare’s tragedies did. Every story format was unique and innovative and I loved seeing how these authors made these stories their own. Even the formats I disliked or premises I wasn't drawn to I could see the merit in them, which I can't say for all anthologies.

All in all if you like Shakespeare and especially if you like analyzing and looking deeper into Shakespeare I would highly highly recommend checking out this anthology.
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Essentially a bunch of fanfiction AUs, this is a fun collection for Shakespeare fans who want more diversity in their modern retellings.

 While the quality of the stories varies from author to author, I’m putting this at a solid 3 stars because most of the stories do depend on you being familiar with the original Shakespearean version; I found myself lost at times.
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I enjoyed this anthology. I would like to say it definitely differed from story to story on how much I liked it. Some were hits, some were misses, and some were just eh. If you're a Shakespeare fan and a lover of YA, I would definitely recommend this just for fun.
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Release Date: March 16, 2021
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN-13: 978-1250753861

Numbered Pages: 321
Short Stories: There are 15 Short Stories Total, 4 of Which Are Written by Authors in the Melanin in YA Database

Design: Devan Norman
Jacket Design & Hand Lettering: Jon Contino

Purchase: Bookshop I Barnes & Noble I IndieBound I Amazon
Add it to Goodreads: Here



A midnight dance in a gym. A cast party amongst the stars. An ode to a fallen rap legend.

Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of William Shakespeare’s classic works. Now, today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these fifteen whip-smart and original retellings!


Dedication: “For Micah, whose stories are only just beginning”
End of Book: About the Authors, About William Shakespeare, Acknowledgements


K. Ancrum
Author: K. Ancrum
Short Story: “The Taming of the Soul Mate” – Pages 45-63
Shakespeare Work Reimagined: The Taming of the Shrew (Comedy)

Genre: Speculative
Setting: Engagement Party
Tense: Past Tense
Point of View (POV): Third Person
Themes/Subjects: Love, Soulmates, Fate, Freedom, Tradition, Independence, Identity, Social Roles & Expectations

Characters + Identifiers (Main Character + In Order of Named Appearance): 

Katherine – College Freshman

Lucentio – 17-years-old, Bianca’s Soulmate, tall, dark-gray hair (p. 49)

Sabrina – College Freshman, Katherine’s Best Friend, gray curls (p. 46)

Bianca – Katherine’s Younger Sister, Lucentio’s Soulmate, white-gray hair (p. 48)

Janet – Sabrina’s Choice of a Potential Soul Mate for Katherine

Petrucio – Lucentio’s Friend, dark and shiny hair, eyes the same hue but lighter (p. 52), curly hair (p. 56)

For Readers Who Enjoy: The One (Netflix), Black Mirror Episode 404 “Hang the DJ,” The Adjustment Bureau


Lily Anderson
Author: Lily Anderson
Short Story: “We Have Seen Better Days” – Pages 89-109
Shakespeare Work Reimagined: As You Like It (Comedy)

Genre: Contemporary
Setting: Camp Arden
Tense: Past Tense
Point of View (POV): First Person
Themes/Subjects: Love, Secrets, Rivalry, Forgiveness

Characters + Identifiers (Main Character + In Order of Named Appearance): 

Rosalinda “Rosie” – braided pigtails (p. 96), red dyed hair (p. 98)

Dad / Duke Castillo – Camp Director, Rosie’s Father

Celia “Cece” – Rosie’s Older Cousin by 2 Years, sharp toenails (p. 90), hair in space buns (p. 91)

Orlando Cohen-Kersey (Formerly “Orly,” now “Lando”) – Rosie’s Friend, 1 year older than Rosie, Tall, light-skinned, Black, owlish glasses, dimples (p. 91), afro (p. 92),

Ollie – Orlando’s Older Brother

Mom – Rosie’s Mother

Madison Poffenberger – Camper

Tinsley Poffenberger – Camper

Rachel – Camper

Fun Fact:

There are pop culture references to PERCY JACKSON, Jordan Peele, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, and Jurassic World.


Patrice Caldwell
Author: Patrice Caldwell
Short Story: “Elsinore” – Pages 252-274
Shakespeare Work Reimagined: Hamlet (Tragedy)

Genre: Paranormal
Setting: April 1892 English Country Estate “Elsinore”
Tense: Present
Point of View (POV): First Person
Themes/Subjects: Madness, Death, Justice, Revenge, Social Status, Politics, Deceit, Monsters

Format: Epistolary

Characters + Identifiers (Main Character + In Order of Named Appearance): 

Lady Anne – 17-years-old, The Late Duke’s Daughter

Camilla Whitbeck – Lady Anne’s Best Friend

Duchess Penny Taylor / “Mother” – Lady Anne’s Mother, Duchess of Elsinore, Black, American

Lord Andrew Taylor – Lady Anne’s Uncle Turned Stepfather, Duke of Elsinore, English

Papa – Lady Anne’s Father

Samuel “Sam” Whitbeck – Camilla’s Brother, green eyes (p. 264)

Mama – Camilla & Samuel’s Late Mother

Reginald “Reggie” – Jester

Fun Facts:

There are pop culture references to Grace van Helsing  and Sherlock Holmes.

This short story is followed by an Author’s Note.


Tochi Onyebuchi
Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Short Story: “The Tragedy of Cory Lanez: An Oral History” – Pages 223-238
Shakespeare Work Reimagined: Coriolanus (Tragedy)

Genre: Contemporary
Setting: Long Beach, CA
Tense: Present
Point of View (POV): Told through interviews conducted by the Narrator
Themes/Subjects: Community, Fame, Reputation, Hip Hop, Politics, Class, Identity, Masculinity, Humanity, Rivalry

Triggers: Violence (Stabbing), Death, Homophobia

Characters + Identifiers (Main Character + In Order of Named Appearance): 

Cameron Marcus / Cory Lanez – 17-year-old, Rapper/Singer, Queer, Family roots in Zimbabwe (p. 231)

Terence Stevens – CitiZens Rap Group Member, Childhood Friend

Herbert McKenzie – CitiZens Rap Group Member, Childhood Friend

Menachem Adler – Cameron’s Childhood Friend, Producer, Jewish

Violet Marcus – Cameron’s Mother

Van Nathan Marcus – Cameron’s Father, member of the Black Panther Party

Titus Lawrence – Former Member of the Piru Street Bloods

Cornelius Thompson – Former Member of the Piru Street Bloods

Adrian Young – Senior VP of A&R at Volscian Records

Tyson “Aufset” Aufson – Rapper, Cameron’s Friend & Unconfirmed Love Interest

Vera Gibson – Cameron’s Partner and the Mother of Cameron’s Son

Mutasa – Cameron’s Son

Julius Brown – Former City Councilman

Silas Vale – Local Law Enforcement Community Liaison

Fun Fact:

There are pop culture references to Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, Motown, N.W.A., Rick Ross, Jay Z, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, E-40, The Game, Rosa Parks, Serena Williams, ScHoolboy Q, Bryson Tiller, JID, Burna Boy, DJ Khaled
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The stories in this were okay. I didn't really love any of them but none of them were that bad either. It's really nice to see diverse retellings of some of the most iconic pieces of literary history and I really appreciated the authors notes at the end of some of the stories. 

I think people who are big, big fans of Shakespeare retellings will be very happy with this, but as a "casual fan" myself, it was just okay.
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That Way Madness Lies edited by Dahlia Adler, takes Shakespeare's greatest stories and wrings them of their spirit and pours that on to a new scene. This fun romp through classic stories puts together new twists, new characters, and new settings to bring these classic works to a more familiar space and give characters new identities that would have been unheard of at the time. The collection of short stories starts with a bang--a new way to tell The Tempest--and does not disappoint.
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That Way Madness Lies captures this essence of what hooks people about Shakespeare, while also acknowledging the problematic elements. It embodies new angles and ways to re-imagine a cannon. Packed with authors I loved, this anthology allowed me not only to re-visit favorites - like Anna-Marie McLemore - but also new authors like Patrice Caldwell. While not every story was a hit run with me, which is extremely difficult for an anthology, the ones I loved, I adored.

Some of the stories felt like they didn't have enough space to expand, to grow into part of why some of the originals resonate with readers. At the same time, I enjoyed the ways authors captured a moment from the story. Looked at different characters and moments within the originals. Some stand outs from this anthology had to be from Dahlia Adler, Lindsay Smith, Joy McCullough, and Patrice Caldwell. That Way Madness Lies is a abulous anthology from anyone with favorite authors inside or wants to see Shakespeare shook.
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Review from my 13-year-old daughter:
Ever since reading "Star Crossed" by Barbara Dee in fourth grade, I have loved Shakespeare. So, although I don't always like short story collections because it's harder for authors to do thorough character development and plot, I was extremely excited to receive an ARC of this book. Like all short story collections, there were some stories that I liked better than others, but overall, I really did like this collection, my favorites being "Partying is Such a Sweet Sorrow" and "I Bleed." And although I do love Shakespeare's plays, I do agree that he wrote very white, straight characters, so I was so glad that this book succeeded in changing that. My biggest problem overall with this book was that most of the stories tried to fit too much of the plot of a Shakespeare play into them, but seeing as Shakespeare's plays have so much plot and these are short stories, not all were successful. But overall, I found this to be a great collection with some extremely well done retellings.


"Severe Weather Warning" by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, "The Tempest" Retelling, 2/5 Stars

I know this author duo does Shakespeare retellings, and although I didn't like "If I'm Being Honest," their "Taming of the Shrew" retelling, I was hopeful that I would like this one. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Part of the reason why I didn't really like this one was because I've never been the biggest fan of the plot of "The Tempest," but the main reason is that I couldn't stand the characters. This story follows a girl who has a rivalry with her sister, but gets locked inside the house with her during a storm, along with her sister's ex and the ex's brother. One of my biggest problems with this story is that the main character was awkward around a guy because they kissed in seventh grade, and that awkwardness lasted through senior year. Then they had one conversation, and suddenly [they were madly in love. Also, this plot was driven entirely by the fact that none of the characters would communicate, and I hate it when the only reason why a plot is progressing is because the characters are petty and refuse to talk. I know this happens quite a bit in Shakespeare, but there is usually a reason why they can't sit down and talk, unlike in this story, where they had so many opportunities to speak, and just refused, until one day they just randomly decided to. But I do feel like if it weren't for the odd setup of this plot, the main character would have actually been interesting to follow.

"Shipwrecked" by Mark Oshiro, "Twelfth Night" Retelling, 4/5 Stars

I love the plot of "Twelfth Night," and while I do feel that this story rushed it to fit everything in and had lots of overexplaining in the beginning, I loved the representation and the characters. This follows Vi, who has just come out as nonbinary to their twin Seb. At a school dance, the two are mistaken for one another by Olivia, who Vi has always liked, but who Seb's best friend, Antonio, is trying to set Seb up with, despite being in love with him. There were three characters in this who I know were supposed to represent characters from the play, but they were just so pointless. Yet I did really like this, and I honestly think I would have absolutely loved this if it were a full length novel so that everything wasn't so rushed.

"The Taming of the Soul Mate" by K. Ancrum, "The Taming of the Shrew" Retelling, 2.5/5 Stars

This story follows a world where everyone sees in black and white, but when a person finds their soulmate, they can suddenly see in color. Katherine think the whole thing is pointless, but when she surprisingly runs into her soulmate at a party, she is forced to reconsider her future plans. This had an interesting concept, but it got a bit boring near the end, when Katherine had a huge change of character. I know this happens in the play, but there are things leading up to that change of heart, while in this, Katherine suddenly just changed her entire personality and outlook on life. I can see other people liking this one, it just wasn't for me.

"King of the Fairies" by Anna-Marie McLemore, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Retelling, 4.5/5 Stars

This is the first piece of writing that I've read from Anna-Marie McLemore, but this had such beautiful writing that I now want to pick up more stuff by them. This was more of a continuation of the original play than a retelling, because it is told from the perspective of the "Indian" child after the events of the first play. I liked the main character, and, unlike some others, this worked incredibly well as a short story.

"I Bleed" by Dahlia Adler, "The Merchant of Venice" Retelling, 5/5 Stars

I loved "Cool for the Summer" by this author, so I expected to love this one, and luckily, it didn't disappoint! This takes place in highschool, and follows the original plot pretty closely, where one character wants a piece of the other's flesh. I liked the way that the author changed the story and retold it mostly through the eyes of the "villain." Despite this play being considered a comedy, I have always thought of it as more of a tragedy, and am glad the author chose to tell it this way. I don't have a lot of thoughts for this one, just that I really loved it.

"We Have Seen Better Days" by Lily Anderson, "As You Like It" Retelling, 1/5 Stars

"As You Like It" is my favorite Shakespeare play, so I had high expectations for this one. But I absolutely hated it. It had a great chance to explore gender identity, and instead it was a girl walking around in the woods, complaining about her life to her two friends. That's it. It also completely messed up the relationship between Rosaline and Orlando, and it had a terrible resolution with her father. The only thing that it sort of got right was her relationship with her cousin, but even that was a bit questionable.

"Some Other Metal" by Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy, "Much Ado About Nothing" Retelling, 3.5/5 Stars

This story was fun and enjoyable, although a bit forgettable. It follows two characters that work in a theater company, who, although they have a well-know rivalry, the rest of the cast is trying to set up. Once the two of them find this out, they decide to pretend to be together in an attempt to make the rest of the cast regret their attempts. Despite the fact that I was confused as to why it was set in space and that the authors tried to add in slightly too much drama at the end, I loved the fact that it was set in a Shakespeare company and found this story to be entertaining.


"His Invention" by Brittany Cavallaro, "Sonnet 147" Retelling, 3/5 Stars

This story follows two people on a road trip. It was intriguing, but for its full impact, it needed to be longer. I know it's based on a sonnet, but it was so short it seemed almost pointless.


"Partying is Such a Sweet Sorrow" by Kiersten White, "Romeo & Juliet" Retelling, 5/5 Stars

This short story was so amazing! I feel like it was one of the only ones that was able to follow the entire plot and not just part of it, while still making it unique and interesting. I feel like "Romeo & Juliet" is an easy play to retell the basic storyline of, but this story was able to include all of the characters and then do lots with each of them. This pretty much follows the same story as the original play, but was able to give each of the characters their own backstories without it feeling rushed. For example, Tybalt was actually given a different backstory than in the actual play, which I liked, even though it was quite sad. And Benvolio was there to do more than just be a shoulder for Romeo to cry on. I also like how in the end, he chose to be there for Mercutio rather than Romeo, because that made it feel like he was actually capable of making his own decisions. Plus, I was extremely happy that it actually gave Rosaline a character, even if she wasn't the nicest. In the original play, although Romeo talks about her plenty in the beginning, she never actually makes an appearance. But in this one, she's actually given good characterization. So although the characters actually had the same personalities that they had in the original, this story did a great job of still making them unique. I also really like what this did with the original story. It was actually able to keep some of the original dialogue, yet still make the story feel very modern. For example, parts of the Queen Mab speech were still there, but it was done in a way that didn't feel forced. Also, it was told entirely in text messages, which I usually don't like, but this one was done well. I'm also quite glad that it kept in the parts where Benvolio and Mercutio make fun of Romeo for how crazy he's acting over one girl, because he needed a few sensible people in his life. And lastly, I really like how the author did the ending. In the original, it's Friar Lawrence who finds them, but that isn't what happened in this, making the ending more realistic. I also found it interesting how the author left Mercutio and Tybalt's relationship unresolved at the end, with people finding out about it, but without seeing another conversation between the two of them over what happened, since they were both in the hospital and they both had reasons to hate each other. And I also like how it ended without us getting to see the reactions of people when they found out what happened to Romeo and Juliet, except for Juliet's aunt. 

"Dreaming of the Dark" by Lindsay Smith, "Julius Caesar" Retelling, 2.75/5 Stars

This story follows a group of girls trying to harness a dark power in their town, but after one of them dies, the main character is intent on getting revenge. One thing that I did appreciate about this was that it was able to fit a lot into a short amount of pages without it feeling like too much was going on. But besides that, it felt like every other basic young adult witch story that I've ever read. Honestly, I was pretty bored until the end, where it actually got interesting. I also wish that we'd gotten a bigger focus on the main character and her relationship with the girl who died, because it felt like that was kind of brushed over.

"The Tragedy of Cory Lanez: An Oral History" by Tochi Onyebuchi, "Coriolanus" Retelling, 1/5 stars

I'm pretty sure that this follows Cameron as he becomes famous, but it left so little of an impact on me that I'm not entirely sure what it was about, since both the plot and the execution were boring. The characters were all so 2 dimensional and I couldn't tell the difference between any of them. If you're going to do an oral history, you need to build up all of the characters that are talking and give them each their own personalities and development to make the story intriguing. Not just that, but the characters NEED to have different opinions to make the story interesting, otherwise doing an oral history is pointless. But instead, all of the characters agreed on everything, so much so that they all could have been the same person. An example of a book that actually does oral history well is "Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid, because that one actually gave each of the characters a personality and they all saw each situation differently. This story also needed more than one plotline, for example the characters could have talked about how Cameron effected their personal life, but they only ever talked about his rise to fame.

"Out of the Storm" by Joy McCullough, "King Lear" Retelling, 3.5/5 Stars

This story is told in a script format and follows three sisters waiting in a hospital as their father is about to die. Although writing in a play script can lead to the story feeling emotionless, this one actually did it quite well. I really liked the dynamic between the three sisters, as they all had very individual personalities, although I do wish there was more exploration into their past. Overall, I feel like this worked well as a short story.

"Elsinore" by Patrice Caldwell, "Hamlet" Retelling, 4.5/5 Stars

This story retells parts of "Hamlet," but with vampires. "Hamlet" is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, so I'm so glad that I liked this one! I found the combination of vampires with the original story to be interesting, as well as the fact that it was told in journal entries. My only two problems with this is that Ophelia's brother ended up on their side, and the ending, which is one of the best parts of the play, was completely cut out and everything was left unresolved. 

"We Fail" by Samantha Mabry, "Macbeth" Retelling, 1/5 Stars

This is probably my least favorite story in the entire collection. I had high expectations for this one, since I think out of all the plays, "Macbeth" is the most interesting to retell, but I had so many problems with this story. It follows Drea, a highschool student who suffered a miscarriage and whose life with her boyfriend, Mateo, has gone downhill ever since. When they get into a car accident that leaves their friend, Duncan, trapped under the car, Drea convinces Mateo to wait to call for help so that Duncan will die and Mateo will be able to take his football scholarship. First of all, I don't understand at all why Drea and Mateo liked each other. Maybe if we'd seen more of their relationship before the car accident I would have understood, but in every scene in which they were together, they seemed to dislike one another. Second, I didn't like Drea at all, which is odd because I loved Lady Macbeth in the play. Also, I wish there was a bigger focus on the witches. They have always been some of my favorite Shakespeare characters, and yet they were hardly in this one. I'm also confused over why the characters of Duncan and Banquo were combined, since they were so different in the play. I'm also not a fan of how this story kind of framed Duncan's boyfriend as the villain, when he had the right to be extremely upset. Plus, Duncan's death scene should have been SUPER dramatic and intense, but instead we're just told what happens later. And I get that the author wanted to include the dead bird, but the whole point of it in the play was that Macbeth killed it, not that Lady Macbeth just found it. And lastly, I feel like this story kept focusing on all of the unimportant things from the play, while not caring about the most important parts.

Late Romance

"Lost Girl" by Melissa Bashardoust, "Winter's Tale" Retelling, 2/5 Stars

This book follows a girl learning about her father and developing a relationship with a classmate. The reason I didn't like this much was because I didn't really care about the characters, but I know other people will like it.

Overall, this was a pretty great short story collection that I entirely recommend it if you like Shakespeare!
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I feel like my reaction to every short story collection ranges from "amazing" to "waste of the fifteen minutes I just read." It's hard to rate a collection overall. RTC.
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These fifteen Shakespeare retelling are a mixed bag, as one would expect from a short story collection, but for the most part are very good. I was especially fond of the tragedies, although the comedies were also well done. My favorite was probably the take on Romeo and Juliet, while the taming of the shrew was also very well done. I like the diverse aspects of the stories and how they are a new modernized on such a classic tales. There’s a couple stories that I skimmed through because they didn’t seem appealing to me, but that’s another beautiful thing about story collection: they don’t have to appeal to everyone.
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This was... interesting.

I literally never thought I would read a YA anthology full of Shakespear retellings, but here we are.

To be honest there were several stories I just skipped over because I tried to read them and couldn't get into. If you're a fan of Shakespeare but want more diverse stories based on Shakespeare lore and legend, pick this up.
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I only requested this anthology so I could read the Lear story and move on with my life (in my quest to read every Lear retelling I can get my hands on), but what can I say, once I had it on my Kindle I couldn't resist. Even though I don't particularly like YA and didn't have the highest of hopes that these stories would engage with the plays in particularly interesting ways. Still, there were some pleasant surprises here.

That Way Madness Lies is a YA anthology by a handful of noted writers, each retelling a different Shakespeare play. The selection of plays itself is very good--there are the crowd pleasers as well as a couple of unexpected ones. The organization of this anthology bothered me on a couple of levels--first off, why is The Winter's Tale placed in the Late Romances category but not The Tempest? We're also frequently treated to 1-page author's notes after stories, all of the same tenor; "this is why the original play was problematic and here's how I decided to fix it". Which, aside from being jarring and downright annoying, showed such a blatant disregard for Shakespearean scholarship that I had to laugh--yes, of course this is a commercial anthology intended for a young audience but my god, patting yourself on the back for being brave enough to consider The Merchant of Venice through Shylock's perspective as if scholars, directors, actors, and audiences haven't been doing exactly that for centuries is solipsistic to the extreme. 

Anyway, as always with anthologies, it's a mixed bag. Some of these stories are unexpected and brilliant and others fall spectacularly flat. So, let's do this.


"Severe Weather Warning" by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley (The Tempest) - 4 stars
A nice and melancholy snapshot into sibling rivalry as a storm rages outside, delaying Prosper's sister's flight to a prestigious internship that she effectively stole from her sister. Really enjoyed this one and felt that it was one of the most successful stories in accessing the original play's themes even as a nonliteral reimagining. 

"Shipwrecked" by Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night) - 3 stars
Twelfth Night meets high school prom--we've got some love and heartbreak coupled with mistaken identity shenanigans as one twin has recently come out as nonbinary and has started to resemble their brother. It's a bit corny but mostly harmless. 

"King of the Fairies" by Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night's Dream) - 1 star
Midsummer from the perspective of the "Indian" child abducted by Oberon and Titania. Hands down one of my least favorites from this collection; it couldn't be more heavy-handed and patronizing if it tried. If you like McLemore's writing you'll probably like this story; I simply do not.

"Taming of the Soulmate" by K. Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew) - 3 stars
A soulmate AU where Katherine doesn't see color until she meets Petrucio at her sister Bianca's party; rather an inconvenience for her 5-year plan. I take umbrage at a modern retelling framing Petruchio as the Reasonable One, but I grudgingly ended up appreciating where this story arrived.

"We Have Seen Better Days" by Lily Anderson (As You Like It) - 2 stars
I found this story perplexing. As You Like It, as far as I'm concerned, is fertile ground for a reimagining that focuses on gender identity (a topic otherwise omnipresent in this anthology)--and instead we get... a story about summer camp nostalgia and daddy issues? Anyway, I'd be happy to put my expectations aside about what this had the potential to be if it were any good at all, but it was objectively one of the weakest in the collection. 

"Some Other Metal" by Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing) - 1 star
I kind of hate Much Ado so I was probably never going to like this very much but... yeah, it was bad. It follows two actors, Tegan and Taron, who play Beatrice and Benedick on stage, and off-stage have an antagonistic relationship, but they’re trying to be set up by their director. The meta narrative was painfully obvious and would be more fun if you enjoyed Beatrice and Benedick's dynamic in the slightest which I can't say I do. This story is also set in outer space for reasons that are of absolutely no consequence? 

"I Bleed" by Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice) - 5 stars
Annoying author's note aside I honestly adored this. The Merchant of Venice + high school doesn't seem like a match made in heaven--right down to Antonio's occupation being declared in the title, this is an inarguably adult work. Part of the fun, then, becomes seeing how deftly Adler adapts this story's mature moving parts to a context which shouldn't work at all... but somehow does, brilliantly. It's a very literal adaptation which otherwise isn't my favorite approach in this collection, but I found this one very successful. 

A Sonnet

"His Invitation" by Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147) - 4 stars
A couple take a road trip to California in the only story in this collection that tackles a sonnet. I have to say, this one didn't make a huge impression on me as I was reading (part of it due to being the shortest story in this collection), but interestingly it's really the only one I'm still thinking about after having finished. 


"Partying is Such Sweet Sorrow" by Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet) - 4 stars 
Yes, the title is stupid, but let’s move on. White actually does a remarkable job at capturing the simultaneous foolishness and lovability of the titular protagonists. This story is told entirely in text speak which admittedly is not my favorite, but it makes for fast, feverish reading, which is probably the effect that White intended. This story I felt was one of the most successful at transporting the emotional landscape of Shakespeare to a much smaller and more modern setting, and hands down the most effective story in the tragedy section. 

"Dreaming of the Dark" by Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar) - 2 stars
Julius Caesar meets a private girl’s school and dark magic. The context of this one was so utterly contrived (Briony and Cassie have just killed Julia as a sacrifice to a dark god; Annamaria wants revenge) I couldn’t really take it seriously.
"The Tragedy of Cory Lanez" by Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus) - 2 stars 
This one is probably better than I'm giving it credit for. Cameron Marcus, known by stage name Cory Lanez, is a rapper who was recently stabbed to death; this story tackles family, sexuality, and LA gang violence. Unfortunately it's also told as an oral history, and it's that format that I couldn't really get past--I don't think it works at all in short story form; the author hasn't earned the reader's investment in the character that we're mourning and the result is tedium. Which is kind of fitting for Coriolanus to be fair.

"Elsinore" by Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet) - 3 stars 
Hamlet retold as a penny dreadful--we're in Victorian England, and Claudius is a vampire. Anne (Hamlet) and Camilla (Ophelia) team up to take him down. This will work for a lot of readers better than it worked for me, it simply wasn't to my taste.

"Out of the Storm" by Joy McCullough (King Lear) - 1 star
Oh boy, HERE WE GO. I was already approaching this with trepidation after despising McCullough's bestselling Blood Water Paint, but I think my mind was as open as it could have been under the circumstances. Anyway, I remain unconvinced that McCullough has read anything more than the wikipedia summary for Lear as this really failed to engage with it on... any level deeper than 'three sisters whose names start with G, R, C.' Written like a play script, it's a snapshot piece where we see Gabi and Cora at their dying father's bedside at the hospital; Rowan, the middle daughter, bursts in and we discover that she's absented herself from the family to get out from under their strict minister father's thumb. Arguments ensue; Rowan is accused of being selfish, she retaliates that she had the fortitude to escape, etc., that kind of thing. Look, I'm sympathetic to the fact that Lear is one of the hardest plays to retell and I'm happy for a reimagining to be nonliteral, as long as it accesses some of the original play's themes, which this just didn't, at all. Ample meditation on truth, power, aging, justice, human nature, and cosmic inevitability to draw from and you opt for... three sisters with an over-controlling father? (The play script format was insufferable as well; if this were a real play it would be peak 'family arguing at the dinner table' theatre.)

"We Fail" by Samantha Mabry (Macbeth) - 1 star 
Just dreadful. Drea, a high school senior, has recently suffered a miscarriage, and her fiancé, Mateo, has been passed over for a football scholarship. When the two get in a car crash and their friend Duncan is pinned beneath the car, Drea convinces Mateo to wait before calling for help, so Duncan will die and Mateo can take his scholarship; and also because she's still mourning the loss of her child and needs to take control of their future. I really despise Macbeth retellings that have a hyperfixation on Lady Macbeth's fertility, and for that narrative to be given to a high schooler made it all the more perplexing and oddly melodramatic in a way that didn't show a similar self-awareness as the Romeo and Juliet story. This was too rushed as well; maybe it could have done something interesting as a longer story, but hurtling through the events of Macbeth at breakneck speed just didn't work.

Late Romance

"Lost Girl" by Melissa Bashardoust (The Winter's Tale) - 4 stars 
This was a lovely story about Perdita who recently discovered the identity of her absent father, trying to cope with that as her new relationship with classics student Zal blossoms. It's short and sweet and a nice note to end on.

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
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A wonderful collection of William Shakespeare inspired anthologies with a modern spin! I had a blast reading these and by far one of my favorites was.... Hamlet but with girls and vampires! Such a diverse and unique spin on the Shakespeare classics. I absolutely adore Shakespeare and this was a great take on the classics. Each story is unique and some of them have author notes explaining why the author took a particular take which is such a nice touch! Seriously go read this if you enjoy Shakespeare, fun fairy tales, romance, and just are looking for an entertaining read.

*Thanks Flatiron for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review*
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I thought that this anthology was absolutely wonderful! I loved how these authors took Shakespeare's stories and turned them into something new. All of the stories were incredibly well written and I loved all of the different writing styles. Many of them had me completely hooked and I would love full books of some of these stories. I know that I'll be re-reading these quite often. I also loved that many of the authors involved characters of color and LGBTQ characters and none felt like stereotypes or there just to fill a diversity quota. 

Tws for the collection as a whole: mentions of tornados, mentions of a car crash, blood, recreational drug use, racism, transphobia, kidnapping, antisemitism, white supremacy, sexist language, homophobic language, mention parental abuse (including mental/emotional abuse), death (including mentioned shooting and stabbing, parental death), murder, fire, witchcraft, cult,  gangs, severe injury (coma), illusions to rape, mentions of drowning, teen pregnancy, miscarriage, grief
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*Thank you very much to Flatiron Books,Dahlia Adler, and Negalley for an E-ARC of "The Way Madness Lies" in exchange for a honest review. * So, to be 100% honest, Shakespeare is NOT my jam, but even without loving the source material,  I was pleasantly surprised to find I liked this! My favorite had to be K.Ancrum's "Taming of the Soulmate" which I thought was brilliant!
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