Cover Image: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

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Member Reviews

I haven’t read the Tempest in a long while, but I found as I was reading this book there were many elements of the story that closely followed Shakespeare’s version.

Though the names were ever-so-slightly changed, the general plot was very similar. Having said that, this book could stand up on its own and be a very good read even if you’ve never been exposed to the original.

I loved this much more (sorry Shakespeare). The way Mira was written was such a stark contrast to Miranda. She is a character in her own right and there is only ever a a suggestion of a romance which allows her to have actual character development. The use of magic was much more integral to the plot, the battle for power being seen as an internal struggle as well as one between the king’s court. 

The characters trapped on the island were more realistically described. For example Miranda wasn’t described as basically a princess after spending all those years on the island, she was described as having matted hair and skin weathered by the sun. It made the characters more believable. 

I really hated Auriel, though I think that was the point. I didn’t like him much in the original, but I definitely agree with how the author portrays him from reading it. I’m glad in the end it worked out as it did, the theme of revenge in the original has everyone as being forgiven, but in this version revenge is punished.

I liked the twist that the author brought to the original and how she gave everything her own spin. We barely heard from the King, but had much more insight into some of the other characters. The “monster” was written so well and I loved the storyline he was given. I felt like we were given the opportunity to know the characters as if they were actual people instead of ideals. 

I really liked the idea of the tempest being inside Mira, and the flashbacks to the characters motivations. I saw that some people found that confusing but I think it slotted in with the storyline and enabled us as the reader to find out more about the characters a little more organically. We weren’t told everything upfront, we learned as we went along and it forced me to question what judgements I had made before being given the new information. 

The ending was not entirely what I expected but not in a bad way. It felt like it wasn’t rushed to a conclusion - this is the case with the original so it was something I was wary about. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and seeing what the author had in store for her characters. It’s definitely a fun read if you’ve read the Tempest, but is a good novel on its own merits.
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Steampunk meets Shakespeare in this exciting retelling of "The Tempest." I love steampunk, I love Shakespeare, I will admit, I was a little hesitant about how they would blend. Grauer does an admirable job, her take was refreshing and I loved what she did with these classic and well-known characters. I do wonder if someone without a rough idea of what "The Tempest" is would follow along easily as there are moments that seem to rely on that knowledge without explaining things full. That said, this story is enthralling, the cover is amazing, and I really can't wait to see what Grauer does next.
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I received a copy of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The cover is what grabbed me first, and then the note that it was a retelling of the Tempest. I haven't read the Tempest in over a decade but remember liking in high school, so I felt as if I was reading On The Isle of Sound and Wonder with very fresh eyes. It was a slow start—it took me almost a month to read the book so I was not thrilled with the pacing. However, the storyline seemed intriguing for the most part and I did return to finish the novel during down times and between other books.

There were some questions raised by myself as the reader during the novel, which is why I gave it a 3-star rating. The first was that Mira's character, our heroine, is not completely consistent. She has spent her childhood reading and learning from the books that her father brought with them on the Island. However, there were some phrases, and concepts that she was not familiar with that I thought was a bit odd. Particularly, since she specifically notes that the books were primarily histories. (Especially, the dresses women are still currently wearing.)

However, I liked the magical elements that Grauer utilized during the novel. I found Mira's character to be interesting and I enjoyed her parts; and I enjoyed Corvina's story immensely. I felt the romance portion could have taken a bigger role; it fell a bit flat. Particularly the romance between Bastanio and Torisone, it felt forced and very short. We didn't really get to see their characters as clearly. I felt we could have spent more time getting to know the characters.

There were other discrepancies in the overall story; Corvina's pregnancy for one, and unnecessary plot points. It felt almost more like a Midsummer Night's Dream to me, rather than a Tempest retelling. I wish the author had been a bit more creative with the names of the character's as well. They were almost identical to the character names in the original. With the plot alterations made, I would have liked to see a bit of creativity in the names.

The ending was very rushed. It wrapped up quickly, but still left some open-ended questions, particularly about a mechanical friend that we do not see again. Finally, there was a very intriguing boat/plane mechanism and android-esque creatures that I would have loved to learn more about. I think that portion of the story was underdeveloped.

Overall, it was an interesting retelling--my favorite parts were actually Corvina's portions and honestly, I would have loved a book purely on her life. I'd recommend this book to other retellings, like My Plain Jane and Pride, or magic novels like the The Ninth Sorceress.
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This story took a while to get into

As this is retelling it is not entirely surprising to find this slightly more difficult to read, yet I did find myself struggling more than usual.

The writing style is relatively easy to follow and the narrative straightforward. The characters are ... intriguing.

This story is an acquired taste and definitely not everyone's cup of tea. But for those who have an appetite for Shakespeare might find it quite enjoyable.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review. 

The Tempest is one of the few Shakespeare plays I have yet to read. However from what I know of the play, I thought this retelling did a good job of staying true to the story while being its own thing. I think the author did a great job balancing all the characters. There are a lot of characters, but no one was ever really neglected. The only downside to that is that I never really got to connect with any of the characters. I wish there was a bit more about Mira and her powers. I also had a hard time with Dante. He is clearly power hungry, but this whole set up to bring the people who banished him to the island for retribution was hard to fully comprehend. I just never understood why he blamed them in the first place?? Overall this was an enjoyable story, and I enjoyed the characters, but I think maybe this could have a been a bit longer or focused more on certain characters. 3.5/5 stars
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I had really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded awesome. But I had to DNF this book after about 40%. I unfortunately could not get into it.
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Going into On the Isle of Sound and Wonder, I was excited. I love Shakespeare and really enjoyed The Tempest. And I did enjoy parts of this book. However, overall I thought this story fell flat of what I wanted. To me, it was a mix of either too much or not enough steampunk and a story that did not explore much outside of the basics. The steampunk elements seemed to be not prominent enough to be a true steampunk world, and it made it feel more like an afterthought that didn’t fit with the rest of the story.

I had a hard time liking any of the characters. Mira and Ferran had very little chemistry for me, romantic or otherwise. Dante never felt human to me. His backstory did not give him quite enough depth for me to truly care about him. Some of the side characters, while their relationships were a bit more interesting, blended together too much. I had a hard time telling some of them apart. The one character that I loved was Corvina. She was interesting, more nuanced, and more mysterious. I think I would have preferred a book centered more around her than on any of the others. My interest had been waning some and when I got to her backstory in the middle of the book, I was pulled back in. Sadly, we then left her again to return to the others and I was less intrigued. 

The one big thing that I did not care for was the treatment of sexual assault. It seemed to be treated in an off handed way that made it less important and more of a side note. I’m not saying I want the book to focus on it, but I don’t think it should come across as trivial either. It really just made me uncomfortable to read about it in this novel. 

Overall, this book was fine. It was not everything I wanted and it was not particularly unique or adventurous, but it was an interesting telling of The Tempest and moderately fun for most of it.
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Alyson Grauer's On The Isle of Sound and Wonder is a quasi-steampunk Italianate fantastical retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but it is also so much more. On The Isle can stand alone as its own story: it does not rely on the reader knowing the source material for it to work. Mira and Dante have built their own life on a little island, and we get to peer in like a spirit on the breeze. One of my personal favorite parts of retellings is trying to pick up the threads of the source material and see their echoes in the current version. Grauer has not simply plopped The Tempest in afresh setting and called it good: she has woven in recollections to bolster side characters as well: I very much enjoyed the budding relationship between Bastiano and Torsione, and I relished Corvina's backstory. The Isle of Sound and Wonder was an excellent escape from reality for me.
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When I read the description of this book, I was very excited to have the opportunity to read it—a steampunk retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, sign me up! I have always loved the idea and aesthetic of steampunk and the potential implications it has for our current experience of modernity—the idea that we are reflecting backward while still holding onto concepts of technology that we as a collective have deemed "useful." And while I like reflecting on this, I have largely been disappointed in a genre that has not used its aesthetic as commentary and instead delivered tech and style at the expense of storytelling. 

Alas, I was disappointed with this book. I think that taking on a retelling is a deceptively monumental task. How do you explore an existing work and add to it? How can you make it your own? How do you explore character and plot when those things are laid out for you? How closely do you follow those elements of the original work? What I found with On the Isle of Sound and Wonder was that it was a quasi-European setting and a relatively formulaic story. Unfortunately, this book did nothing to expound upon The Tempest—in fact, eliminating the ambiguity (who are the villains?) that makes The Tempest interesting—and it frequently made me uncomfortable with the handling of sexual assault. 

Now, William Shakespeare directly attributes Caliban's slavery to his attempted rape of Miranda, so in this way, On the Isle of Sound and Wonder stays true to form. I also think that his monstrosity might touch upon the racial issue as well (since neither of those things exists in a vacuum). However, I didn't feel that the writing expounded upon this in a meaningful way, and so inadvertently reflected a framing of which I am not particularly fond. 

This story does give Mira (Miranda) more agency and strength. Corvina (Sycorax) has a much more expansive and well-rounded backstory. But all of this was lost in a muddle of storytelling that I found to be confusing and, at times, tedious. The way the narrative unfolds is often disjointed. I found that the other characters were flat and not expanded upon enough; brevity that is perhaps a necessity in a play but possibly does not serve a novel well. I would look forward to the parts that included Miranda and Corvina because these are the sections that shined. It seems to me that the author wanted to focus on these characters, but in following the format of The Tempest, got too bogged down with the other details to be able to do just that.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I read that this was a retelling of Shakespeare's "The Tempest". I still want to read the original play, so I thought I might understand it better if I read this retelling first, just so I understand the main points better. I do have to say that this book sadly did not convince me.

Let me start with the main character: Mira. She just wasn't my type of person, I did not like her and anything she did or said. She just had this constant "I am better than you" aura surrounding her. She put herself above Ferran (the prince) which I find was totally unnecessary, just because she might know the island better and because she's a woman and "oh so much better than him". Her misandric approach was just over the top.
The other characters were okay, might have just annoyed me at times but Mira was just the character that I disliked the most. The characters were nothing special, to put it that way.

The plot was also just okay, I found the rape and how it was retold totally unnecessary, you really could've left that part out of the story. The way it was executed and how the consequences fell together were just weird to read, I really do not know how else to put it. The writing style was just really not my type, it was very bland, had nothing special to it and quite straight to the point. Not really a use of many adjectives and little descriptions. The one thing I liked where the island-vibes that I got from the book. The water, the swimming, living on a deserted island in nature, and how idyllic it must be. 

This book was more of a chore to read than that it was of any pleasure to me. The plot and the characters were just very boring and it just was not interesting. I really felt like this book had some real potential. but the execution of it just went wrong somewhere.

I do not recommend this book. and if you are looking for a retelling of "The Tempest" I would go looking for another book, because this book will sadly not cut it.
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DNF'd at 30%. I started this book a month ago. I really tried to get into it, I really tried to push through, but 30% in a month is rough. I'm bored and I don't want to read it and I feel like I'm going to put myself in another slump if I try to finish it. Sorry to this man 😭
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A fairytale style story about a girl stuck on an island with her father, who is inclined to bouts of dark magic, and the shipwrecked people trying to survive there with (or is it despite?) them. 

This story kept me interested throughout and coming back to find out what was going to happen or to discover the character’s pasts in flashback chapters. 
Set in a steampunk world infused with real magic our characters are well defined in their intentions and motivations, so choices made seemed believable. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for approving this eARC!
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Er...I mean, I think I should've known I wasn't going to love this book since I didn't like The Tempest. While this is a retelling, so the author took some creative liberty, it still read like The Tempest to me and overall I found myself kind of bored while reading. I think if someone is not familiar with the work this book is based off of, they will truly adore it, but for someone who is familiar with it, they'll probably find it predictable and boring, like me.
This isn't a bad book! This book just wasn't for me. I do think the author did a great job recreating the world and characters, but I just saw too many similarities to the original to really fall into it.
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I just really felt in the mood for an island fantasy and this one did not disappoint, though it wasn't really because of the atmosphere..
Ever read a short book and thought: "well, these characters are so interesting to me, it sucks that this book is so short". Well.
I'm not sure why, maybe they aren't that peculiar at all.. but I really vibed with them. I wish I could get to know them more!
There's two men who realize they love each other and I think they actually have chemistry.

For the sole reason of me not having read The Tempest yet, I can't say anything about how this retelling handled the story. This is a steampunk novel, as I have learned it in the reviews, but honestly, it doesn't make much of a difference to me.

I short, I genuinely liked reading this book, it was easy to get through, and I might reread it sometime.
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Thank you, Netgalley and Shadesilk Press for providing me with an ARC of On The Isle Of Sound And Wonder in exchange for an honest review.

I have read The Tempest, the abridged version of it in high school. I remember enjoying it at the time, but never picked up the entire play. I saw this title on Netgalley and when I read the synopsis I was really interested to know how a retelling will work for the play.

I really liked the story and how the author approached it. I wanted to see more of the world she built and how crazy the innovations and inventions were for the year the author set the story in. I liked the manipulative and cunning Aurael was. He is definitely up to no good. Mira was wild, efficient and confident and I loved her strength and courage. The monster was definitely the guy you will feel sorry for. He happens to get the brunt of all blame regardless of who has done the mistake. Dante is an interesting character. I wanted to see more of him as well. I wanted to know if he had the darkness in him from the very beginning or is it something he came by later on in his life. The witch, the Faerie King, Queen all had less time in the book. I would love to see more of their characters as well. I think the book is a great start for a new series, even though it is not a part of the series. It would be interesting to see more of these characters and more of their world being expanded on. I adored Gonzo and loved Karaburan and how naive and innocent he was. I don't remember all the details of The Tempest by Shakespeare, so I can't say how the retelling is in comparison to the original. However, I loved this book. I do have some questions and some doubts when it comes to certain events. I gave this book 4.5 stars. This was an enjoyable and engaging read. I definitely recommend checking it out.
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A shipwreck close to an isolated island leads to many secrets of its inhabitants being unravelled.

What a fantastic read! Unfortunately, I am not familiar with The Tempest but this book made me want to read Shakespeare just to spend a little bit more time with this story.

The convincing world building, the colorful characters, the beautiful setting, the suspense and, last but not least, the brilliant writing - I was not able to find anything to criticize in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and definitely recommend it.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this. I will be posting a full review to Goodreads, Amazon, and Instagram.
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I was never really able to get into this book. 
I liked the writing style, but I just wasn't for me, which sometimes happens. 
Maybe I'll give it a chance another day, but for now, it just wasn't something I enjoyed.
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'On the Isle of Sound and Wonder' is a steampunky, modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. With flying air ships, robot advisors, and plenty of dark magic, Alyson Grauer has done a wonderful job with this re-telling. 

What I loved most was the focus on female characters. Both Mira and Corvina were really well executed and gave the original tale a bit more of a feminist angle. The backstory of Corvina was my favorite part of the book and it added a complexity to an otherwise easily-overlooked character. In fact, all the back stories were really well done and this is where the story deviated from - or added to - the original tale. The more the book progressed, the more it shifted and the more I enjoyed it.
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Thank you again to Netgalley and the author for sending a review copy my way.
 This book was a nice little fantasy romp. Definitely better than I expected. The beginning scene really drew me in and got me invested in both the characters on this island and what kind of magic they possess. I wasnt a huge fan of the steampunk element but it wasnt overbearing enough to turn me off to the book. Mira was a beautifully written main character and really drove the story forward. I didnt enjoy the father's characterization as much. He sort of felt almost like a Disney villain, but he still wasnt awful. 3.5/5
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