Readers’ Choice Review: A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

book cover of A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

Title: A Wounded Name
Author: Dot Hutchison
Release date: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): Debut Author
Recommended by: Alyssa from The Eater of Books

There’s a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.


Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster’s ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster’s grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.


Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison’s dark and sensuous debut novel, the name “Ophelia” is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as “Hamlet”.

Well I could not have picked a better book for my first readers’ choice review.  If my recommendations keep being this awesome, I may just have to read nothing but recommendations from you guys!
A Wounded Name is a retelling of Hamlet.  I’m a huge Shakespeare buff so maybe that’s why I loved this one so much but I know for a fact that that is only part of the reason.  The story was part of the draw for me but that’s not what really hooked me.  The writing and the characters are what really got to me with this one. To be completely honest, there wasn’t a single thing about A Wounded Name that I didn’t like.
First off, I have to mention the writing.  It’s absolutely gorgeous writing.  Some of the best I have ever read, for sure.  If nothing else about this book appeals to you, read it for the writing alone.  It’s worth it.  Dot Hutchison is one of those writers who could write a phone book and I would read it.  
The second best thing about A Wounded Name would have to be Ophelia and the rest of the characters.  A Wounded Name is told from Ophelia’s perspective and you really see the story in a whole different light.  Ophelia is a little bit crazy (literally) but I couldn’t help but love her.  She’s been through so much in life that I just wanted something good to happen to her.  She’s one of those characters who truly deserves a happy ending.  Same goes with Dane (Hamlet).  He’s a very messed up young man but you can tell that he really is a good person.  He does so much to hurt the people he loves but he doesn’t really mean any of it.  He’s lost and confused and mourning his dad.  I felt so bad for both him and Ophelia.  Really, the only character I didn’t feel bad for was Claudius.  Dot Hutchison made him into the perfect villain.  He wasn’t too evil but there wasn’t anything good about him, that’s for sure.  Also, I can’t not mention Horatio.  I loved him.  Ophelia hit the nail on the head when she said that he was the best of them all.  
The story is nothing new but like I said, you get to see a different side of it now. Like the synopsis says, you know how this story ends (if you’ve read Hamlet) but that does not take away from A Wounded Name at all.  I didn’t read this one because I expected mystery and suspense.  I read this because I expected a true to the original retelling and that’s exactly what I got.  
Overall, you must read A Wounded Name!  I can’t recommend it enough.  I can’t wait to see what Dot Hutchison does next!

What others are saying about A Wounded Name:

YA Fanatic’s reviewA Wounded Name is a book full of unfulfilled promises, revenge, death and madness with a beautiful, lyrical writing which will captivate everyone.”
Flying Kick-a-Pow Reviews’ review: Unfortunately, a lot of things about this book fell flat for me.” 
Sassy Reads’ review: you know how this story ends… except where the first focused on his (in)sanity, his grief, and the lot of them getting caught up in one plot then another, this focuses on her.” 
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  1. I haven’t seen many reviews of this one, so yours is the first one for A Wounded Name! I’m so glad you loved this so much, Katie. Although I’m not familiar with the play that this book is based off of, I’m still curious to read it because of the beautiful writing style and endearing characters you mentioned. I’m looking forward to reading this one, thanks for the brilliant review, Katie!

  2. I’ve seen this book mentioned a few times and have been curious about it. I love retellings of all kinds and Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play. I actually read another Hamlet retelling from Ophelia’s perspective (Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein) and that one literally retells the original story but from Ophelia’s perspective. It was pretty interesting, although I also am intrigued by this retelling/reimagining of the Hamlet story in a different setting. Thanks for the review – I’ll definitely look into this!

  3. It’s hard to remember that the original Hamlet is YA too, but I love how she took the original play and turned it into contemporary YA.

    The echoes of the original are clearly there, but it’s wonderful to see Ophelia as a strong, determined girl, accepting her fate and still fighting for what she wants and believes.

    I never thought Hamlet and Ophelia should’ve been together in the play, but it’s interesting how you were rooting for both of them in this retelling.

    Lovely review 🙂