Review of As I Descended by Robin Talley

Read: 11th September 2016 – 15th September 2016

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spoilers in review: Only if you count the plot of Shakespeare plays as spoilers

When I heard that this book was going to exist I was really excited. I’d already read and enjoyed ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ and I’ve enjoyed modern retellings of Shakespeare in the past (and Macbeth is a play I’ve actually seen performed). I also want to consume as much media with lgbt protagonists as I possibly can, as in my opinion there isn’t nearly enough of it.

I was not disappointed.

The different points of view allow for a greater understanding of each of the characters’ motivations and thought processes, and ensures that all the major characters feel like real people, rather than just plot devices. In some ways, the varied point of view is necessary given the story that’s being adapted, but Talley makes it work extremely well.

The novel touches on issues of sexuality, race, and disability. I was not expecting to read about the latter two but I’m glad they were in there. I think this might be the first book I’ve read where a protagonist isn’t completely able-bodied. This has led me to question why this is the case. Is it that I’m just not reading the books where this is the case? Or is there a general lack of disabled protagonists in YA fiction? Either way, this was a welcome change from the norm.

I can’t really complain that three out of the four lgbt characters die in this, because it’s an adaptation of Macbeth. And I’m not putting that as a spoiler because Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most well known tragedies. I’m fairly certain that most people are at least vaguely aware of the plot already. To be honest, I’m surprised there wasn’t more death in this. All that being said, don’t be an idiot like me and let yourself get attached to the characters. You’ll just be hurting yourself. I know it’s hard to resist, but seriously. Don’t do it.

I’m also impressed with how loyal to the original play Talley is throughout the novel. I liked seeing how the different events and situations translated to a modern setting, while still being the same at heart.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Shakespeare, ghost stories, lgbt+ characters, and/or tragedies. I also recommend having something unambiguously happy to read/watch afterwards, because I know that’s what I need to do now.

Review originally written in 2016

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Hive

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