Published by Amulet Books on March 8th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
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A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
The Steep and Thorny Way is my first foray into Cat Winters’ work but it won’t be my last. While the Hamlet retelling aspect of this one was what first caught my attention, it was Cat Winters’ writing that kept it. I’ll hold out judgment until I can read at least one more of her books but I think she may earn a place on my favorites shelf.
- The writing: As I said, the writing definitely got me with this one. The Steep and Thorny Way is historical fiction with a twist and Cat’s writing is perfect for this type of story. It’s atmospheric and haunting. The story itself was extremely interesting and I was hooked for that aspect but the writing definitely added to my enjoyment.
- The history: I’m a huge history buff and I loved that Cat Winters didn’t choose the typical 1920s to portray. The Steep and Thorny Way shows a darker side of the 1920s and it’s not always easy to read. And while it is very much fiction, Cat Winters did a great job making her story as accurate as possible. She doesn’t shy away from the reality that would have been Hanalee’s life as a mixed race teenager in that time period.
- Hanalee: Hanalee certainly had her flaws but I really liked her overall. She reminded me a lot of myself in some of the things that she did. I felt that I could relate to her, even though our situations are nothing alike. She was strong and capable but she didn’t always think things through before acting. I couldn’t fault her for that but sometimes I could see how things would happen because of her actions.
- The other characters: I was not a huge fan of any of the other characters. While I felt like I could relate to Hanalee, she was the only one I felt that way about. Everyone else needed to be a bit more rounded out and I felt like I never really got to know or like them.
- The retelling aspect: I love Hamlet. I took a Shakespeare class in high school and college and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him but especially Hamlet. I feel like saying this is a retelling was a little bit misleading. There were definitely things about it that tied back to Hamlet but I would say it was more inspired by Hamlet than a retelling.
Overall, The Steep and Thorny Way really did impress me. I love that I have found a new author that I feel can do the historical fiction genre justice. I look forward to checking out the rest of her books and if you haven’t already, this one is definitely a good place to start.
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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!
2/29/2016- Adventures of a Book Junkie– Interview
3/1/2016- The Forest of Words and Pages– Review
3/2/2016- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post
3/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream– Review
3/4/2016- Stories & Sweeties– Excerpt