Friday, October 31, 2008

Enter Three Witches

Cooney, Caroline. 2007. Enter Three Witches.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Act IV, Scene I

Caroline B. Cooney's latest novel, Enter Three Witches, is rich with Shakespeare. Told from the point of view of a young girl, Mary, the reader gets a new perspective of the ever-required play MacBeth.

Back to Enter Three Witches. Mary is a young girl, a daughter of one of the characters who is accused of treason and executed. She had been "adopted" for a time by the Macbeth family and had been staying with them for quite a while when the book (and play) opens. We first meet her visiting and chatting with the servant girls/kitchen staff. Although Mary has not revealed it to another soul, she's been experiencing weird tingles in her thumbs. She's almost convinced it's a sign. A sign that only the three weird sisters could interpret. But everyone is scared of the witches, right? Yet her curiousity leads Mary to be in just the right place to overhear a prophecy--a deadly prophecy given to Macbeth. (The reader will notice that this happens to Mary a lot. She always happens to be in the background, the shadows, listening and watching as all the big drama happens.)

What can I say about Enter Three Witches? It blends original characters with classic Shakespeare characters. It quotes a bit of Shakespeare now and then. While it is told mainly through Mary's point of view, it also includes a bit of the young prince's point of view--Fleance. It is very dramatic. Of course it has its dark moments. Lots of blood. Lots of schemes. Lots of villains.

Looking for another Macbethian novel to read? Try Something Wicked by Alan Gratz.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Ender in Exile

Card, Orson Scott. 2008. Ender in Exile.

Ender in Exile is the "new direct sequel" to Ender's Game. And in a way, that's true enough. The novel begins with Ender on Eros. His brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine, are on Earth. One lobbying for his return, the other arguing that he should not be allowed to come home. At all. Ever. If Ender was sent home, so the argument goes, he'd be a pawn for governments and militaries to fight over. He'd be targeted by power-hungry individuals for the rest of his life. Right? Those that have read the Shadow books (Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant) know that is exactly what happened to other Battle School children--including Petra, Bean, and Alai--when they returned. With the return of the children come wars and rumors of wars. Valentine--a.k.a. Demosthenes--wants better than that for her brother. Valentine loves her brother. If he can't come to her, she'll go to him. She decides to join her brother in space in his exile.

Admiral Ender will soon become Governor Wiggin when he's sent (along with Valentine) with one of the first (I think it is the very first) colonization vessels. At thirteen, he doesn't feel ready for the job no matter what anyone on Eros or Earth has to say about his legendary hero status. And there is at least one man on board--a fellow Admiral--who is captain of the ship--Quincy Morgan--who feels that Ender is a sham of a man. He glories himself to be the better man for the job. And he plans accordingly.

This journey will take a little over forty years give or take a month or two. But for Ender--and for the others that remain awake for this flight--it will be just two years. Who would choose to stay awake when they had the option of sleeping and not aging? You might be surprised at how many. Ender chooses because he wants those two years desperately to make him "mature" into a man that a colony of strangers would respect. Valentine chooses because it will give her time with Ender...and it will give her time to write. She's got plans for writing about Battle School and the Formic Wars. The reader is also introduced to two others that choose to remain awake: Dorabella and Alessandra Toscano. Dorabella is a strange woman living in a fantasy world and dreaming big dreams. Here is a feisty woman with ambition. Alessandra is the much shyer, much quieter, mostly-obedient daughter who's afraid to stand up to her mother.

Where are they going? Colony 1. But this colony is soon given a name: Shakespeare. And Ender begins communicating with the governor even before they've left Eros. He wants to know everything about the planet, everything about the people, he wants to make these vital connections, and it's not because he has to. The reader is introduced to some of these colonists throughout. (None will be familiar except Abra.)

A lot can happen in forty or fifty years. And Andrew and Valentine are not cut off completely from Earth. Not exactly. So we do hear about Peter becoming Hegemon. About the wars on Earth. About Bean and Petra and the others whose adventures we followed in the Shadow books.

At some point in the book, Andrew learns about another colony-in-the-making that will be governed by a Battle School graduate named Virlomi. And on that ship is a child that Graff feels is the missing ninth child of Bean and Petra. He wants Andrew--if he's able--to go to this new Colony if he gets the chance to find out for sure. The colony in question is Ganges. On this ship and on this colony are several people whom the reader first met in one or more of the Shadow books.

So Ender in Exile is also the direct sequel to Shadow of the Giant. It follows a handful of the characters into space. And we also follow in a limited capacity those left behind--Peter, Petra, Graff, etc.

Almost everything that happens (but not all of what happens) was hinted at in the final chapter of Ender's Game. There aren't any BIG surprises along the way. The Ender of Ender in Exile is a boy in transition. He's not yet a man. He's not the wise-beyond-his-years Speaker For the Dead. He's a guilt-ridden boy who is burdened by what he's done--the deaths of those two boys, the annihilation of the Buggers--and he is anxious to make amends. He's a good-natured, boy who is seeking answers, always seeking.

How does Ender in Exile compare to others in the series? I enjoyed it. While it could never take the place in my heart for Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, it certainly belongs there with the others. We've got a good mix of old characters and new characters. The characterization--like always--is great. The plot was as exciting (in a way) and well paced as others. This one wasn't as bogged down with politics and strategies. Nor was it bogged down with philosophy. I'm not picking on the other sequels--I happen to enjoy them all--but I also acknowledge that some fans of Ender's Game are turned off by the sequels.

I've never been sure how to order these books. I read them Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, Ender in Exile. But chronologically, they're all over the place. All of Ender in Exile occurs within the final chapter of Ender's Game and before Speaker of the Dead opens. But there are events discussed or mentioned in Ender in Exile from the Shadow books. There are characters introduced in the Shadow books that are a part of the action in Ender In Exile. So I'm not sure what order to recommend them anymore. I think they can be enjoyed in any order perhaps.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Revisiting Ender

In celebration of the release of Ender in Exile, I decided to reread Ender's Game. Though I admit it doesn't take much for me to find a good reason to revisit an old friend like Ender. There are times I wonder why I keep going back again and again and again. What is it about Ender and his friends that I just can't get enough of? I don't have the answer to that. But I do know that each time with Ender is just as magical as the previous times. I never get tired of reading Ender's Game no matter how many times I reread it. And there aren't that many books I can say that about.

First sentence: "I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."

Ender's Game is a story about children who don't act like children. Set several hundred years in the future after the first and second wars with the Buggers (or formics), the military-powers-that-be take the most promising children and send them into space to attend Battle School. There they are raised to be soldiers and officers and commanders. No kindness or compassion allowed. Our hero, Andrew Wiggin, is just six when he's taken to Battle School. His nickname is Ender, and he's one-of-a-kind almost from the very beginning. He's the child that shows the most potential, the most promise. But to get him to commander-stage, he'll have to be treated harshly. Even more harshly than his fellow launchies. Do the end results justify the means? You'll have to read and see for yourself.

For my more extensive review of Ender's Game, see this review.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Poetry Friday: Selection from MacBeth

From MacBeth:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Roundup is at Poetry for Children.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

R.I.P. III Completed

Becky's list. (Peril the Third)

1. The Mystery of the Fool & The Vanisher by David and Ruth Ellwand
2. Zombie Blondes by Brian James
3. The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes
4. Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
5. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
6. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
8. Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex
9. Darkside by Tom Becker
10. Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
11. Poison Ink by Christopher Golden
12. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
13. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The pool:

Classics I may or may not be likely to read: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Monk by Matthew G. Lewis, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, The Italian by Ann Radcliffe.

YA books: Vampirates: Blood Captain by Justin Somper, Zombie Blondes by Brian James, Darkside by Tom Becker, Lifeblood by Tom Becker, Evernight by Claudia Gray, Poison Ink by Christopher Golden, Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez, Oddest of All by Bruce Coville, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, Triskellion by Will Peterson, 666 Number of the Beast short stories by various authors, Thirsty by M.T. Anderson, The Ghosts of Kerfol Deborah Noyes, Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley, Heck: Where All the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye, The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher by David Ellwand, Billy Bones: A Tale from the Secrets Closet by Christopher Lincoln, Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire.

Other adult books: Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt, Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bible Illuminated: The Book: New Testament

Earlier this week, my review copy of Bible Illuminated: The Book: New Testament arrived. (My initial thoughts on this project can be found here.) I'd agreed to post further thoughts on the book as well. For those that don't remember, the translation being used is The Good News Translation (formerly called Today's English Version).

While this one won't be for everyone--for every reader--I do think it will appeal to those that may be turned off by the traditional looking two column, red-lettered, black leather (or leather-like) gold-embossed lettered "Holy Bible". Stereotypically speaking, the "big black book" gathering dust on the shelf. For those that find traditionalism to be a real turn off, this Bible is one plus after another. It does not have the look or feel of a Bible. It's in magazine format. There are glossy pages. There are photographs. Oodles and oodles of photographs.

What may not be so apparent is that this edition of the Bible is minus chapters and verses. On the one hand, that is good because books are then taken to be a cohesive whole. Also, though it's hard for us to imagine in some ways, the chapters and verse separations were added in centuries later. They're not original to the text by any means. I can't begin to count the number of times where coming across a chapter marking will signal me to "stop" reading for the day. Oh, I've read a chapter, two chapters? Then, I'm good. Let's call it quits. Without these chapter, verse markings perhaps there won't be that excuse. But on the other hand, they are convenient. Very convenient. It would be impossible to go to a Bible study or Sunday School class or church and hope to follow along because without chapters and verses to identify your location...then you'd be at a loss or disadvantage. But that is really beside the point in a way. This book is marketed for those that have no inclinations to go to church. It's marketed for the un-churched. For those that have never opened up the Bible (or haven't in a decade or so) it must be strange to encounter the Bible laid out so completely unlike any other book. Do chapters and verses make sense to strangers? Especially since in some cases, the chapters will interrupt the flow of the text mid-paragraph or mid-sentence even. Yes, chapters and verses break things up into manageable and reasonable sizes, but they're not always that logical.

One of my favorite Bibles--and it's now over a decade old--is The Narrated Bible. It's a bible (New International Version, NIV) that arranges the Bible in chronological order. It's designed to make the Bible read more like a novel. A cohesive whole. This seems to be similar in that it wants the text to read more like a magazine. To make readers more comfortable with it. Or not so comfortable as the case may be.

Here's the truth as I see it. People bring to it their own baggage. You either approach it with "this is a holy book, this is inspired scripture, this is God's Word" or you come to the experience with the preconceived notion that it's not...that's it's garbage, nonsense, a waste of time, propaganda, etc. Or you come to it that it's a sometimes beautiful or lyrical piece of literature. But it's literature or mythology not scripture. Changing the format of the bible isn't going to automatically remove those feelings, those notions, those mindsets. Some approach it with their minds already made up. But others may approach it with a sense of curiosity or questioning. That last set--the curious sort--is who this Bible may be best for. Those wondering what this whole Christianity thing is about...but who are too intimidated or weirded out by the traditional Bible and the traditional churches that seem so alien, so out there from where they're standing.

You can't make the Bible be comforting or comfortable. You can't ignore the fact that it does the opposite in fact. Not to preach a sermon at all, but the whole goal of the Bible is to make readers uncomfortable. "The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves." (231)

It doesn't matter what the presentation or format is, the words within don't change. And it is the words themselves that might turn some people off.

The photos are there to engage you, to catch your attention, to make you think, to make you squirm in some cases, to shock you in others.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Would You

Jocelyn, Marthe. 2008. Would You.

A Question
Would you rather know what's going to happen? Or not know?

Claire and Natalie are sisters. Sisters with the whole summer to look forward to. But one tragic accident changes their big plans and wipes away their hopes and dreams for good times. The future can be changed in an instant.

What more can be said? When it comes down to it, you're either drawn to tragic, sad books...or you're not. It is well written. The story is compelling. This is a book where you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. No big surprises there.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

MacBeth Videos

Reduced Shakespeare Company:

Animated Macbeth in three parts



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A good day starts like this...

...deliveries of Dewey and Ender In Exile by Orson Scott Card. Big thanks to Tor and Hachette Book Group for making this Wednesday so very happy!!!

...had lunch with my friends...

...spent the afternoon entering giveaways like this one.

...received the first two Cybils books (out of 136).

...received two autographed books. One of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott...who I just adore! The other of The Humming of Numbers by Joni Sensel. (Review coming soon!)

In sad news, learned that I won't be getting a copy of Girl, Hero by Carrie Jones (And two other flux titles My Life As A Rhombus by Varian Johnson and Swimming With The Sharks by Debbie Reed Fischer.) :( Still the good outweighs the bad so far today!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Travel the World: Manga Shakespeare Macbeth

Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth. Illustrated by Robert Deas. 2008.

This Macbeth graphic novel is set "in a future world of post-nuclear mutation." (That little fact will explain away why Macduff has four arms.) I'll be honest with you now. I rarely understand or "get" the art and design of the Manga itself. Why set Shakespeare's Scottish play in a post-nuclear-disaster future?...for example. But while I sometimes fail to appreciate the illustrative story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the text of the book itself, I almost always love, love, love the adaptation of the play itself. The series has done a wonderful job in adapting these plays and presenting them in new and imaginative ways.

Manga Shakespeare begins with several pages of color art work. Each character is introduced along with a phrase or two that sums up their character or their influence on the play itself. For example, Lady Macbeth's is "But screw your courage to the sticking-place and we'll not fail!" which is a great line to sum up everything she brings to the play.

Most of the graphic novel is in black and white. This is an action-filled play. And the text really works well here. Everything that is memorable and important from Shakespeare's original play is presented within the book. (In other words, all the lines that are apt to be on the test or vital to class discussion.) I love that the language is all Shakespeare. I love that the text becomes more accessible because of the format.

I think Lady Macbeth is a great example of this. With her well-endowed cleavage, corset, mini-skirt, and thigh-high boots. Her manipulations and insults to Macbeth's manhood (and courage) become even more obvious.

Highlights of their relationship:

Give him tending;
He brings great news.

Exit Messenger

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!'


Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.
My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.
And when goes hence?
To-morrow, as he purposes.
O, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under't. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night's great business into my dispatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
We will speak further.
LADY MACBETH Only look up clear;
To alter favour ever is to fear:
Leave all the rest to me.


If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.


How now! what news?
He has almost supp'd: why have you left the chamber?
Hath he ask'd for me?
Know you not he has?
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'
Like the poor cat i' the adage?
Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
If we should fail?
We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep--
Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him--his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done't?
Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?
MACBETH I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.


Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.

Exit Servant

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one halfworld
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder,
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.
With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.

A bell rings

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.


SCENE II. The same.

That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;
What hath quench'd them hath given me fire.
Hark! Peace!
It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:
The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'd
their possets,
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.
[Within] Who's there? what, ho!
Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,
And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deed
Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;
He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done't.


My husband!
I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?
As I descended?
Who lies i' the second chamber?
This is a sorry sight.

Looking on his hands

A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
Again to sleep.
There are two lodged together.
One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'
When they did say 'God bless us!'
Consider it not so deeply.
But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?
I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen'
Stuck in my throat.
These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast,--
What do you mean?
Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:
'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
I'll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on't again I dare not.
Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
For it must seem their guilt.

Exit. Knocking within

Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appals me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,
Making the green one red.


My hands are of your colour; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.

Knocking within

I hear a knocking
At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it, then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended.

Knocking within

Hark! more knocking.
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
MACBETH To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.

Knocking within

Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!

(This one would pair well with Something Wicked by Alan Gratz.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Shakespeare Meme

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to ask Alan Gratz (author of Something Rotten and Something Wicked) some questions on his Shakespeare-themed books (and on his feelings about Shakespeare). Today, I want to know what YOU have to say on the subject of the bard.

What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?

Which Shakespeare plays have you been required to read?

Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel you are a “better” person for having read the bard?

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?

How do you feel about contemporary takes on Shakespeare? Adaptations of Shakespeare's works with a more modern feel? (For example, the new line of Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, or novels like Something Rotten, Something Wicked, Enter Three Witches, Ophelia, etc.) Do you have a favorite you'd recommend?

What's your favorite movie version of a Shakespeare play?

To learn more about Alan Gratz, Something Wicked, and/or Shakespeare...visit these other stops on the tour:

the 160acrewoods, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower

By The Book Reviews

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interview with Alan Gratz

I am very pleased to be a part of Alan Gratz's blog tour for the release of his novel, Something Wicked!

I love these two Horatio Wilkes novels because they make Shakespeare so relevant. It’s like you’ve taken the heart of these Shakespeare stories and added wicked crazy humor and fun to make for some incredibly awesome reads. What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?

Thanks! I can remember the first time I READ a Shakespeare play--Julius Caesar, my freshman year of high school--but I can't tell you the first time I was introduced to Shakespeare and his plays. Shakespeare is such an integral part of Western popular culture that it's difficult
sometimes to tell when he's having an influence on us. So much of our everyday language is based on words or phrases or metaphors he coined or introduced, and so many of his plots and characters are co-opted for other purposes. Kids today watch The Lion King and never realize how many Shakespearean overtones it has (from Hamlet to Henry IV and Henry V), and popular teen movies like She's the Man and Ten Things I Hate About You are direct adaptations (Twelfth Night and Taming of the Shrew, respectively). So there's no telling when I first encountered Shakespeare. Probably on Sesame Street!

As for my first deliberate introduction to Shakespeare, I remember not particularly liking or hating Caesar. It wasn't until I read Henry IV later during my senior year, and had by that time seen many productions of various Shakespeare plays, that I really began to appreciate his work, both as a fan and a scholar. That was when I began to actively seek out his plays and read them on my own, for fun. I went on to take two Shakespeare classes at the University of Tennessee--one on Shakespeare's tragedies, the other on his comedies, and finally understood the meaning behind much of what I'd been seeing in the theater and reading on my own. I do hope that my Horatio Wilkes mysteries are an entree into that world for young readers.

Which Shakespeare plays were required reading?

Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry IV. Oddly enough, I was never assigned to read Hamlet OR Macbeth, at least not until I took that college Shakespeare course. I read both of those on my own before ever studying them. I also taught Romeo and Juliet as an eighth grade English teacher.

Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel teens (and adults) are “better” people for having read the bard?

The great thing about Shakespeare is that his work continues to be relevant not because teachers SAY it is, but because it is so ingrained in our culture. I think Shakespeare has to be taught because his work forms the foundation of everything in literature and popular culture
that has come since, in some way or another. Contemporary storytellers echo his characters, his plots, his language, his themes. I watch The Wire, HBO's fantastic drama about crime and punishment set on the streets of Baltimore, and find myself describing its characters and
themes as "Shakespearean," even if there aren't specific allusions to the Bard. It's the modern way of telling stories that he established, and that we've yet to truly improve upon.

Do I think people are "better" for having read Shakespeare? Not inherently. Not in a "reading the canon makes you better than everyone else" kind of way. But I do think reading Shakespeare--more importantly, UNDERSTANDING Shakespeare--leads to a greater understanding of our own contemporary culture, and in that way I think it makes people better. It makes them better informed consumers of contemporary entertainment, better creators and audiences.

What was your inspiration for the character of Horatio Wilkes?

The first inspiration, of course, is his namesake, Horatio, from Hamlet. As a fan of Hamlet, I always had a special place in my heart for Hamlet's best friend from school, Horatio. It's Horatio who is first shown the ghost of Hamlet's father, and Horatio to whom Hamlet confides
the truth when to all others he feigns madness. And it's Horatio, of course, who gets in some of the last words of the play--"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"--as he stands over the body of Hamlet in the final scene. I loved that Horatio was down to earth, that he was a man of science and action, not philosophy, and most of all that he survived a play that has one of the highest body counts in all of Shakespeare! :-) This, I figured, was the hero for me.

I also knew that I wanted to echo the tone and patter of noir detectives, and my all-time favorite is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. So I threw Horatio from Hamlet and Marlowe from The Long Goodbye into a blender, added a dash of teen snark, and the result was the daiquiri I named Horatio Wilkes.

In your first novel Horatio is in a modern day Hamlet, now in your second novel, he’s in a modern day MacBeth. Do you have plans for more Horatio adventures? Which plays are next? (Please say there are more in the works!)

I do have plans for more. If there is a third novel, it will be Something Foolish, based on A Midsummer Night's Dream--a particular challenge, as there's no murder in Midsummer. I thought after Macbeth I might want something a bit lighter, so I'm taking Midsummer and putting Horatio at an all-night keg party where no one dies, but someone behind the scenes keeps messing with people's relationships--slipping date rape drugs in their drinks and engineering screaming break-ups and scandalous hook-ups. Horatio's also down on love at the end of Wicked--for reasons that should be apparent to those who've read it--and I wanted a book where he dealt with love in its many aspects, and had his faith in it restored. Midsummer, though something of a farce, is a many-layered examination of love's motley forms, and thus really works well for that.

If I get to write more Horatio books, I'd love to do The Tempest, my favorite Shakespeare play, and send Horatio to a Disney World-like theme park in Florida, where a Prospero-like man rules over his little amusement park island of animatronic creatures and furry-costumed
servants. Horatio will be a summer intern, and meet the owner's daughter, a sheltered but intelligent and beautiful girl who has decided to learn her father's business by working her way up from intern to CEO. Which is, of course, how she meets Horatio. And oh, what a brave new
world that has such interns in it... I also have designs on throwing Horatio into Julius Caesar with a college visit toga party that turns deadly. :-) There are a lot of plays left, and I have a lot of fun ideas--now the first two books just have to sell well enough for my publisher to want to do more!

How did you decide which Shakespearean details to include in your novels? Both in Something Rotten and Something Wicked?

The number one rule for putting any Shakespeare allusion or plot device into my novels was, "Does this move Horatio's story forward?" That was very important, and it meant losing the graveyard scene in Hamlet, as well as the scene where Claudius is praying and Hamlet stands behind him trying to decide whether killing his uncle now will send him to heaven or not. It also meant taking out a lot of allusions to dialogue, like the long speech that Polonius gives Laertes that famously includes, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I had a lot of things like that in the first draft, until I understood that too many in-jokes and superfluous scenes slowed things down and weren't necessary to my story. Those are things I would never have included had there been no antecedent play, and so those were the things that ultimately had to go.

But that meant that I could also beef up those scenes that got short shrift in Shakespeare's plays, like the scene where Ophelia drowns herself. In Hamlet, that scene takes place off stage. But that's good plot! And important to my story. So in Something Rotten we see that scene--and Horatio's impact upon it--where we never see that in Hamlet because it's not necessary.

Macbeth is a much shorter play, so there was less to cut out. The real challenge with Macbeth though was that much of the good stuff in the play is Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plotting the murder of Duncan and then dealing with the effects of their actions--while my novels are written in the first person, from Horatio's point of view. It was difficult from the outset to turn an intimate look at two killers into a whodunit where we DON'T hear the killers plotting. Thus I have a few scenes where Mac and Beth--my Macbeth and Lady Macbeth characters--are interrupted in the midst of heated, unheard whispers: whispers that in the play were whole
scenes of terrific dialogue about courage and ambition.

Do you expect your readers to pick up all clues and references?

I don't expect readers to pick up everything. Someone who is intimately familiar with the plays will probably catch most of the allusions, but for the most part I put things in to delight those who pick up on them. Some are broad and obvious--like a dog named Spot that Beth tells to get
out--while others, like the "Dunsinane Picnic Area" are allusions to place names. Wittenberg Academy--the school Horatio and his friend Hamilton go to in Something Rotten--is a sly reference to the name of the university they both attend in Hamlet, although Wittenberg is only mentioned four times in the entire play. It's little stuff like that that I enjoy. In my notes for the third book, I have Horatio dealing with one of the boys from the school football team, which is the Wittenberg Bears. That's totally and completely a set-up for if I ever get a chance to do a book version of The Winter's Tale, so I can have Horatio chased by someone from the football team, and thus "exit, pursued by a bear."

How much fun is it write these stories, to spend time with Horatio and his often unfortunate friends?

I have a blast writing these. I love the challenge of puzzling out how to translate characters and scenes and themes into a contemporary setting, and I really enjoy coming up with snarky insults for Horatio to hand out to people everywhere he goes.

Do you have a favorite scene in Something Wicked? How about Something Rotten?

I think my favorite scene in Something Wicked might be Horatio's second trip to see Madame Hecate, the roadside psychic who stands in for the three witches from the play. The first scene with her is fun, but in this one I get to do a couple of things that make me happy. First, I
turn that scene into a plot device where Horatio is baiting Mac into doing something stupid--a traditional detective's trick--and thus make it fully a part of Horatio's story, and not just included because it happened in Macbeth. Secondly though, after Mac leaves, Madame Hecate reads Horatio's fortune, and she's dead on--not just about what will happen in the rest of the book, but about the other adventures I want to write with Horatio in them! If I get a chance to do more books, you'll see Madame Hecate's fortune continue to play out long after the events
of Something Wicked are over.

My favorite scene from Something Rotten is actually one that I added in a later draft, and one which has no precedent in Hamlet. I wanted to ramp up Ford N. Branff--my Fortinbras character--as a real suspect, and that meant having Horatio receive a "warning" from Branff's henchman in the Prince home, a colorful servant named Candy. (Warning off the detective being, of course, yet another classic trope of detective fiction.) So I wrote a scene in which Candy waylays Horatio in his bedroom, giving him a little bit of a beatdown. But my favorite part is that it's a professional beat-down. There's no malice in it, just a message, and Candy actually seems to respect Horatio--and answer some of his questions. Rather than become a true antagonist, Candy even becomes something of an ally when Horatio realizes that Branff really didn't have anything to do with Rex Prince's murder. As a big fan of detective fiction, it thrilled me to be able to write a scene I thought could be right out of Raymond Chandler!

What do you love about writing? What do you find the easiest? What do you find the hardest? What’s a typical day like for you as a writer?

The easiest thing by far about writing is coming up with ideas. I have notebooks full of them. The hardest thing is finding the time to write them. If they ever invent a pill that will replace whatever the body needs to do while you sleep, I will pay a king's ransom for it. I could use that extra third of the day where I otherwise have to sleep.

A typical day for me as a writer is a long one, and unfortunately isn't just writing. I get up in the morning and take my daughter to school, then come home to see if there are any e-mails I need to immediately respond to. I get to my office as quickly as possible--where I purposefully DON'T have e-mail access, and try to get in five or six hours on whatever book I'm working on--but that work can be doing research, creating a detailed outline, actually writing the book, or doing revisions. After that I come out and try to be a human being with my family, and the in the evenings, after my wife an I have spent an hour or two together being sociable, I often do much of the housekeeping things associated with being a professional writer--responding to interviews, updating my web site, arranging school visits, blogging, and all the other myriad things I do to publicize my books. I rarely have a night off--let a lone a day off--but I wouldn't trade what I do for anything. Except perhaps for being independently wealthy. I think I might trade it for that. Which would of course just mean that I could take more time with the books that I want to write--not that I would stop writing. :-)

How do you find time—do you find time—to keep reading? Do you have any favorites of the year?

Oh yes, reading! I forgot to add that into the schedule. Which is of course the challenge. With the new books coming out, I've been spending even more of my evenings working on publicity for Wicked, but I usually try to get in a little reading time most nights before I go to bed. I
also read a lot when I'm on the road alone, as I've found that I just don't work well in the hotel room when I come back from an all-day school visit. Reading is far more relaxing, and still an enjoyable part of my "job." This year, my favorite reads have been M.T. Anderson's Feed, E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks, Jo Walton's Farthing, Jeff Vandermeer's City of Saints and Madmen, Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends, and Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier.

If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?

I would go into the future, not the past. I would drop in every hundred years or so to see how things are going for humanity. I want to see how it all turns out. :-)

Thanks, Becky! Oh, and if I can add one more thing: To celebrate the debut of Something Wicked, my publisher is putting Something Rotten online for FREE until the end of November. Not just a chapter, not just an excerpt, but the WHOLE BOOK. I'm really excited about this offer, and I hope a lot of people take advantage of it. To read Something Rotten for FREE, go to and click on the link to the free ebook.

To learn more about Alan Gratz, Something Wicked, and/or Shakespeare...visit these other stops on the tour:

the 160acrewoods, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, By The Book Reviews Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, October 27, 2008

Something Wicked: A Horatio Wilkes Mystery

Gratz, Alan. 2008. Something Wicked: A Horatio Wilkes Mystery.

Horatio Wilkes is back in his second adventure, Something Wicked. We first met our mystery-solving hero (who is wonderfully snarky) in Something Rotten. A modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet set in Denmark, Tennessee. In this second adventure, we have a modern-day spin on Shakespeare's Macbeth set on Mount Birnam during the Scottish Highland Fair. (And although this is his second book, it is not necessary to have read Something Rotten in order to enjoy Something Wicked.)

So who are the stars of Something Wicked? Well, there's Mac (Joe Mackenzie), Beth (Mac's girl friend with attitude), Banks (Wallace Banks, cousin and friend to Mac), Duncan (Mac's grandfather, owner of the mountain and founder of the fair), Mal (Duncan's son and Mac's uncle), Mona (Desdemona, Horatio's older sister), and Megan Sternwood (Horatio's love interest from the Macduff clan). Of course, there are many others as well including a fortune-telling road-side psychic named Madame Hecate.

Here's how the novel begins:
History is full of guys who did stupid things for women. Paris started the Trojan War over Helen. Mark Antony abandoned Rome for Cleopatra. John Lennon gave up the Beatles for Yoko Ono. You can say I'm a dreamer, but they're not the only ones. Like my friend, Joe Mackenzie: He was about to jump off a five-story building just to impress a girl.
"Come on, you wuss!" Mac's girlfriend Beth yelled. "If you don't jump off that tower, you're not getting any more of this!" She lifted her sweater up over her head, showing her bra and her extraordinary breasts to Mac, me, Banks, and the five or six other people milling around Kangaroo Kevin's Bungee Jump-O-Rama in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. They actually inspired a small round of applause. I won't say what they did to me, but Beth's fun cushions certainly inspired Mac. With a Scottish war cry he charged the end of the platform and jumped headfirst, screaming all the way down. His kilt opened like a daisy as he fell, and everyone saw his stamen. (1)
This group of friends is on their way to the Highland Fair. (Horatio is the only one NOT wearing a kilt.) But before they arrive, they stop and several have their fortunes read by a woman who calls herself Madame Hecate. An activity that proves rather fateful and which sets the tone for the book. Mac is told that he will compete in the decathlon, he will win, and he will become king of the mountain. Banks is told that he is "lesser than your friend, but greater" and "not so happy, yet much happier" and that he will one day own the mountain. These "prophecies" set off a chain of events...

Something Wicked is a mystery. The mystery in this case? Who murdered Duncan Macrae? The man, the founder of the Fair and highly respected and beloved by all the clans, is found murdered in his tent on opening night. Horatio is the one who discovers the body. Who sees the name 'Malcolm' written in blood. Who reports the crime to the police. Who becomes friends with Sheriff Wood. It is Horatio who starts to piece together just who had the motive, means, and opportunity. He may not like being in the center of this unfolding mystery. (Especially as he discovers he has his own role to play in solving the case.) But Horatio plays a crucial role in bringing justice about.

I loved so many things about this one. It's a smart novel. Great writing. Good humor. Interesting twists.

From the author's site:

Something wicked this way comes,
and only Horatio Wilkes can stop it.

A Scottish Highland Fair turns foul when Horatio discovers the games' founder, Duncan MacRae, dead in his tent. All signs point to Duncan's son as the murderer, but Horatio's not so sure--especially when his friend Mac and Mac's girlfriend Beth start acting like they own the place. And that's just one of many mysteries: Like why are Mac's and Beth's fathers acting so suspiciously? What's the deal with the goth-punk bagpiper corps threatening Horatio's friend Banks? Who is the hot girl spying on everyone? And why, exactly, are there men in kilts tossing telephone poles around?

Horatio will need all his snark and smarts--and maybe a little amazing grace--to thwart the fate a road-side psychic laid out for him and his friends. Not that Horatio believes in that kind of thing anyway . . .

Kilts, Celts, and killers: the sequel to Something Rotten is "Macbeth" as you've never seen it before!

For a limited time, you can read Something Rotten for free.

Other reviews: Genre Go Round, Readers' Rants.

To learn more about Alan Gratz, Something Wicked, and/or Shakespeare...visit these other stops on the tour:

the 160acrewoods, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, By The Book Reviews Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Mind, Body, Soul Challenge

Mind, Body, Soul Challenge
host: Annie (Reading, Writing, and Ranting)
October 1, 2008 - October 31, 2008
required books: depends on the options the participant decides; 4 for me.

Soul: The Cure by Harry Kraus, MD.
Body: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Narrated by Kate Burton.
Mind: Macbeth by William Shakespeare; Something Wicked by Alan Gratz.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, October 26, 2008


What better way to kick off Macbeth week than by discussing the original play by William Shakespeare. (Later on in the week, I'll be discussing Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth, Something Wicked by Alan Gratz, and Enter Three Witches by Caroline Cooney.)

Here's a link to the play online. (Should you be inspired to read Macbeth this week so you can join in on the fun.) Here's my tip (for what it's worth) on reading Shakespeare...don't stress on the details, on understanding every single word. Think about the big picture. Sometimes it helps to know the frame of a story before you tackle the bard himself. Reading the abridged version in the Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare might help. Or watching a movie version (or stage version). Shakespeare was meant to be seen and heard not read, remember!

That being said, I really enjoy reading Shakespeare now and then. He has a way with words that cannot be denied. And Macbeth is one of his best. There are so many lines and phrases from Macbeth that are part of our culture..."sound and fury"...."something wicked this way comes..." not to mention those famous "double, double, toil and trouble"'s.

While there is very little to admire in most of the characters--especially Macbeth and Lady Macbeth--there is something deliciously dark about the play which makes it perfect reading for this time of year.

So what is the play about? It's all about ambition and greed. It's about desires. We do see humanity at its worst. Macbeth and his wife fail...and fail miserably as human beings. It's one thing to want something, to be jealous, to be envious. It's another to premeditate one murder after another after another after another in the name of "prophecy."

Macbeth was told by three witches that he would become king. How would a person respond to that? How should a person respond to that? Well, if you've got a speck of human decency, you probably wouldn't react like old Macbeth. You wouldn't let your wife manipulate you into committing several murders. Not that I lay all the blame on Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is a weakling of a man, it's true. And her teasing that he isn't all-man, does lead him to make stupid choices. If he wanted to prove he was all-man, that he had what it took to stand on his own two feet...he should have put his foot down, put his wife in her place, and stood up for what was right. He wouldn't have had to be talked into anything. You can almost imagine Macbeth with a little devil (or temptress) on his shoulder. The problem was he had no good angel to counteract those whispers. So once the first murder was committed....well, there was no looking back.

Highlights from the play--mainly focusing on the witches and the so-called "prophecy."

First Witch
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Second Witch
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
Third Witch
That will be ere the set of sun.
First Witch
Where the place?
Second Witch
Upon the heath.
Third Witch There to meet with Macbeth.

First Witch
Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.
HECATE Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i' the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I'll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
Great business must be wrought ere noon:
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I'll catch it ere it come to ground:
And that distill'd by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion:
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
He hopes 'bove wisdom, grace and fear:
And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy.
Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,

Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.


First Witch
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
Second Witch
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
Third Witch
Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.
First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Second Witch
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Third Witch
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Second Witch
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter HECATE to the other three Witches

O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' & c

HECATE retires

Second Witch
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!


How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?
A deed without a name.
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down;
Though castles topple on their warders' heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature's germens tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken; answer me
To what I ask you.
First Witch
Second Witch
Third Witch
We'll answer.
First Witch
Say, if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?
Call 'em; let me see 'em.
First Witch
Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that's sweaten
From the murderer's gibbet throw
Into the flame.
Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!

Thunder. First Apparition: an armed Head

Tell me, thou unknown power,--
First Witch
He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.
First Apparition
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.


Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp'd my fear aright: but one
word more,--
First Witch
He will not be commanded: here's another,
More potent than the first.

Thunder. Second Apparition: A bloody Child

Second Apparition
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Had I three ears, I'ld hear thee.
Second Apparition
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.


Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.

Thunder. Third Apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand

What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?
Listen, but speak not to't.
Third Apparition
Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.


That will never be
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!
Rebellion's head, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?
Seek to know no more.
I will be satisfied: deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?


First Witch
Second Witch
Third Witch
Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;
Come like shadows, so depart!

A show of Eight Kings, the last with a glass in his hand; GHOST OF BANQUO following

Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo: down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet! A seventh! I'll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry:
Horrible sight! Now, I see, 'tis true;
For the blood-bolter'd Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his.

Apparitions vanish

What, is this so?
First Witch
Ay, sir, all this is so: but why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights:
I'll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round:
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.

Music. The witches dance and then vanish, with HECATE

MACBETH Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!
Come in, without there!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews