Cover Image: On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder

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'On the Isle of Sound and Wonder' is a retelling of my favorite Shakespeare story, 'The Tempest.'  When I first read the synopsis, I was both elated and terrified. Since most people in the media industry tend towards 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'Macbeth,' and so on.. it was great to see this particular play get some attention, but at the same time.. I was really concerned about the outcome.

I needn't have worried. Alyson Grauer's approach reverently held fast to the emotion within the original work, even bolstering it much of the time.. without cheaply mimicking the source work piece by piece. Honestly, it's so difficult to retell something like this. At least, in my point of view. An author has to hit just enough of the critical plot points, not to gut the story, without  just simply transcribing it into modern scenes and calling it fresh. Her wording is at times, absolutely lyrical, in the most beautiful of ways.

"The clouds boiled before him, churning and folding in and out of themselves."

This novel is a testament to the capability of someone who seems to have a connection to the classic, yet is brilliantly creative enough to breathe whole new life into it. The names only vary slightly, making each character easy to recognize from the beginning, but the story she tells weaves in and out of the plotline we know and love. It touches on defining scenes here and there, while giving us alternate perspectives on what occurs and why. 

Both the story and the characters in Alyson's retelling are so robust, that I felt as if I knew them. I wanted certain outcomes for each of them because I was invested so heavily, not a single character failed to matter. Some of those results I got and others I did not.

And I'm great with that. That's exactly how I feel it should be. I want a story to run me through a gamut of emotions. I want to be thrilled.. and I want to be devastated. She succeeded in accomplishing both. 

I love this novel. Alyson Grauer is a force to be reckoned with.. and her pen.. just might wield lightning.. under the right circumstances..
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This was a really interesting story. It was inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, which I had never read but have a desire to now! A little bit of Steampunk, Shakespeare, magic, and Lost. It would have been a five star accept for a continuity error. Though the error is blaring, I still really enjoyed the book.
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I love the Tempest so much, so I was delighted to read this retelling and I wasn’t disappointed at all.  As well as being one of my favourite Shakespeare retellings, it was full of elements of fantasy and steampunk, Alyson had me hooked from the getgo. The characters were well written and constructed, you really connect with them. It’s well written and fast paced. I didn’t want to stop reading and was sad when it ended. I loved Mira so much and I definitely look forward to reading future books by Alyson. Highly recommended 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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While this book is very well-written and is full of exceptional prose, it tends to jump around quite a bit. It feels like the story is disjointed somewhat from so much back-and-forth between the numerous characters. All things considered, this book has great development, flow, and descriptive dialogue. I enjoyed the author’s use of metaphors to match the setting of the book as it helped pull me in and create illustrations in my mind as I read. I also enjoyed the steampunk elements introduced in the book though it was not as big a theme as I had anticipated. 

Having never read "The Tempest", I did not know what to expect as far as the story goes, but I will definitely be reading it soon as I highly enjoyed Alyson Grauer’s retelling! Overall I think this is a great book for anyone who enjoys retellings or Shakespeare in general.
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This is a rewrite of Shakespeare's The Tempest as a fantasy with some steampunk trappings (airships and an automaton) as well as the usual spirits and magic, set in an alternate 1873. It takes the setup of the original and goes in quite a different direction with it. For me, it largely, but not entirely, succeeded. 

On the way through, I noticed that the names (of people, and even more of countries) were subtly distorted from the originals, but in a way that sometimes didn't quite work linguistically, given their origins. I felt much the same way about the change to the central character, Mira - based on Shakespeare's Miranda, but almost entirely different. Mira, rather than a naive and passive damsel, is a tough, decisive protagonist with a wide knowledge, both from reading her father's (non-magical) books and from exploring the island. To me, she went a little too far in the knowledgable direction; she seemed to understand things from the wider world that I felt she would have lacked the context for, having only read about them, and only in the kind of books that would be available when they left for the island in the late 1850s, at that. 

The denouement is also just slightly too perfect a wish-fulfilment fantasy in 21st-century liberal terms. Mira's father recovers his sanity, feels guilt, and apologizes for his bad actions and inactions before conveniently dying so they don't have to decide what to do with him; the gay romance completes its arc, while the incipient connection between Mira and the boyish prince might or might not go anywhere; the king, who has disapproved of the prince's wider intellectual interests and general lack of traditional masculinity, says he loves him; the troublemaking troll/fairy/spirit is punished, the innocent "monster" rewarded; everything is as ideal as it could be. And part of the problem for me, I think, is that a lot of the resolution depended on things that were completely outside the protagonist's control somehow working out perfectly for her. There's even an almost-literal deus ex machina, as well as the spontaneous changes of mind in a couple of the key characters. 

The island itself, while presumably somewhere near the route from Tunis to Naples (since that's where the king's airship is going), is somehow tropical, and reminded me of an old edition of The Swiss Family Robinson I had as a child: it seems to have flora and fauna from multiple continents, though the tiger is eventually explained. 

All in all, it's a little too perfectly a 21st-century morality play, taking place in an island that is just slightly too obviously a stage set, with a protagonist who is a touch too exactly a modern, powerful woman. Don't get me wrong, I think powerful women are great, and love to read about them, but this one was a bit too flawless for her own good. 

Other than that, this is a strong piece of writing, mostly well edited, and I enjoyed it. I won't be including it in my Best of the Year, because it's a bit too perfect in the wrong places, but I'm sure it will do well.
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I thought this was a wonderful retelling if the Tempest! I enjoyed all the interactions of the characters and really loved Mira. Really fun story!
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I appreciate the transposition of a classic story to a new setting and approach. The book does require some close reading to suss out details, but I found this title to be beautiful and engaging.
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Ahhh! My first book review since I gave birth to a gorgeous little boy back in September. I had a troubled pregnancy, and reading took a backseat for basically 2019 in it's entirety. However, I'm back, it's the second day of the new year and I have finished my first book. I feel renewed! Rejuvenated! Ready to devour books again (usually after 8pm when the baby is well asleep). Being a mother will still take priority, of course, but I hope to get back into reading, even if that means less pressure on reviewing books/posting blog posts, etc. Thank you to those who welcome me back with open arms, and a happy new year to you all. 

Anyway, you're not reading this review for me, you're reading it for the wonderment that is Alyson Grauer! So this book was originally published in 2014, but the kindle edition is published in just five days! And now I know that it's first publish was around six years ago , but I can totally see this becoming a series. And here's why:

Mira is a survivalist, and what she can't do for herself on the mystical island she is trapped on with her father - who was exiled from the kingdom of Neapolis - the island provides for her. Although she lives her life as removed from her father, a twisted sorcerer, as possible, she is suddenly woken by an unnatural storm one night and knows that her father is up to some nasty tricks. She investigates quickly, only to find that her father is shipwrecking a ship, which in itself isn't unusual, but this one is the closest to shore she has ever seen! She intervenes. And when the storm is cleared she sets about diving through the shrapnel of the shipwreck for any resources, and here she comes across the Prince Ferran, alive. Suddenly she is on a journey finding out where she truly came from, the reason for her father's exile, the secrets and curses that had plagued the island since her and her father's entrance, and she finds out once and for all what she is truly capable of. 

If you're not hooked by my clumsy summary of the initial story, then this is what hooked me from the outset; On the Isle of Sound and Wonder is an enchanting and modern retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

And it truly is magical. The plot was a little complex, and admittedly it took to about halfway through reading the book to actually get me completely sucked in, as there seemed to be a lot of bases to cover, who was who, why they were doing what they were doing, etc. But that bodes well for anybody who loves a story that has it all; danger, love, monsters, humour, strong females, sensitive males, and a storyline to challenge the social norm. 

Thank you to Net Galley and Shadesilk Press for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really wanted to like this book when I started it. The Tempest was one of my favorite Shakespeare plays that I read during college, and I thoroughly enjoyed other adaptations of Shakespeare’s work.
	Let’s start with the good: The character of Mira (Miranda) was given much more autonomy in this adaptation. She’s honestly the shining light of the book. Corvina (Sycorax) was also given a much more well-rounded back story. It feels like these are the characters that the author truly wanted to fixate on. I found myself looking for the passages where Corvina and Mira were featured. Those passages definitely held my interest more than the passages discussing the other. Unlike Miranda, Mira is a consistently passionate and inquisitive character. While Miranda demonstrates passion rarely throughout the play (the only two instances being where Caliban mentions her rape and she proposes to Ferdinand), Mira is introduced as a spitfire. She obviously disapproves of her father’s commands, and through her words and actions demonstrates her own individual desires throughout the play. Likewise, Corvina has little in common with Sycorax. She taught Dante (Prospero) magic, just as her counterpart tutored Prospero, but that is where the similarities end. Corvina is portrayed in such a way that to deny her sympathy would be a cruelty. Both the characters of Karaburan (Caliban) and Aurael (Ariel) are given more definitely characteristics. While The Tempest thrives on allowing the audience to decide who the true villains are, On the Isle of Sound and Wonder does not leave any moral ambiguities for the audience to parse out. This in itself doesn’t ruin a book, but it does make the book feel as though something is missing.
	Onto the bad: For lack of a better word, the book is confusing. Billed as a a novel “set in a world adjacent to our own,” I found the setting confusing. I knew the ships talked about were airships as I had read the novel description, but it took multiple descriptions of the boat before I was entirely sure that there had not been a misprinting.  Steampunk-esque descriptions of chests, flying ships, and metallic automatons are at odd with a main character who does not understand things such as bustles and corsets. I was so confused by the setting that I researched zeppelins to see when the first one had been invented, in case the author was trying to find an interesting way to describe now defunct pieces of technology. 
	Certain inconsistencies also caused me to question the novel. Mira has a pair of swimming goggles but no access to a knife. Wireless communication is mentioned in passing once, but never again. Technology assists for the convenience of the author without the restraints of a logical technological systems. 
	My biggest issue is that the novel does not seem to know what it is. It does not seem to be an adaptation; only the names and a few characteristics have been changed. There is nothing innovative about the majority of the novel. At certain points it seems as though a parody might be the right term, but the end of the novel destroys that theory. The setting is not different enough for the novel to be considered a restaging. At one point, I wondered if this whole thing was a joke to write slash fiction of Torsione (Antonio) and Bastiano (Sebastian). However, their brief interlude seemed entirely random. The language switches indiscriminately between modern English and Shakespearean English. 
	Overall, I didn’t hate the book. I finished the entire thing, though there were several points where I contemplated abandoning it. The ending itself earned the book an extra star. If you’re looking for an adaptation of The Tempest, you’ve already read Hagseed, and you’re decently familiar with the play, give this a try. The ending was good enough that I don’t regret pushing through the story. If you’re not a giant Shakespear fan, maybe pass on this one. I wouldn’t go out and buy it, and I’m certain there are numerous, more engaging adaptations you could read.
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This book made me wish I remembered more of The Tempest other than the fact that I enjoyed reading it in my Shakespeare class in college. 

The action was well-paced and the characters were interesting. I feel like information was revealed at the perfect time to create that wonderful grey area for the moralities of several of the characters. I really love when a situation or character flip to the other side of a spectrum and this book did that several times. 

I was weary of an insta-love situation cropping up, but I was pleasantly surprised! The author did a good job of giving Mira a lot of agency. She really took charge of her destiny. I'd like to include a content warning for sexual assault in regards to that, however.

The only complaint I have for this novel is that the ending was a little weaker than the rest of the story. Like I said above, I don't really remember much of The Tempest, so that could be a result of deviating from the Shakespearean ending or something else entirely. We spent a lot of time really diving into what the emotional responses each character was having throughout the rest of the novel. So when it got to the ending,  and there was more of an emphasis on the actions happening, the pacing or the tone or something was just slightly inconsistent with the rest of the novel for me. 

Overall, I had a great time reading this and I'd definitely recommend it. I think it would be particularly helpful to students trying to understand the underlying story of The Tempest, but it's also enjoyable on its own.
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It's pitched as a steampunk Tempest, but the delivery was more of a low-tech rainstorm. While it was great to see a spunky, sassy Miranda (Mira) without the Shakespearean insta-love, she was a wee stuck in the Innocent Fanservice Girl trope. The story would be benefited from not adhering so closely to the original. The side stories of the secondary shipwrecked survivors really didn't add anything apart from the token gay, an occasional snippet of steampunkiness and diverted the attention away from some otherwise very cool characters. Mira, Prospero, Aureal and Karaburan, this should have been your story.
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Reading the synopsis on NetGalley I got as far as ‘a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest’ and I was intrigued. Even though I had not read the original work this book was easy to get into and I had no problems understanding what was happening. The events were paced well, I don’t feel like there was any one event that we needed more time on. The book switches between each character’s perspective which I found to be a positive thing as it kept me from forgetting about the other characters. There are also not too many perspectives to switch between so it’s not confusing. We do get some background for the characters (some more than others) and while the history was great to have i did feel like some more depth could have been added for the rest. The steampunk aspects were enjoyable, but I wish a bit more time was spent on them because I found myself wanting more information. I also wish there was more from King Alanno; I did end up forgetting about him at one point. 

I do enjoy retellings of Shakespeare’s work and The Isle of Sound and Wonder made me want to read the original. I did end up listening to the audio shortly after and I can say that the retelling was well done. It stayed true enough to the original work that the plot was recognizable even while being expanded on.
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

On the isle of sound and wonder is a retelling of William Shakespeare's The Tempest and it's brilliant and evocative.
Since Mira and her father Dante were shipwrecked on an island, they were forced to adapt themselves and live there, getting to know the flora, the fauna, reading, learning. When another ship, years later, shipwrecked on the island, Mira starts to realize her father is not what she thought he was, when he made the ship crash using his dark magic and scattering the survivors all over the place. This way, he starts his own revenge, using the plan he orcherstrate years before. The reader swings from past to present, getting to know more about Dante and his story, how he found himself on this island, who is his slave, Aurael, who is the monster in the island, Karuban, who was Mira's best friend when they were little. Told by multple POVs, the story is divided between past, present, Mira, Karuban and Aurael, and between the survivors, the prince Ferran, his uncle Bastiano and his friend Torsione,the fool Truffo and Stephen, the valet, Gonzo, the advisor, When Mira saved Ferran's life and then Gonzo's, they started to understand that the presence of the survivors on the island isn't accidental and to uncover misteries from the past.

This book is incredibly layered, full of complex characters with their own goals and desires. Set on a magical and misterirous island, with a stroke of steampunk (Gonzo is an automaton), the story is captivating and thrilling. The reader gets to know brave and resourceful Mira, curious and trapped into his role Ferran, afraid to be a disappointment to his father the King, Karuban, manipulated and played by Aureal, bitter and revengeful, who is, in turn, enslaved to the cruel Dante, who is using him to get his own revenge. There is Bastiano, the king's brother, who is in love with his friend Torsione (and viceversa), but didn't manage to tell him the truth until the island. Corvina is an interesting character, her own presence setting the story in motion and keeping it running until the end.

An important and recurring theme is the prison. Aureal is enslaved to Dante, and before punished by Ouberan. Ferran felt his own life as a prison, since he can't do what he wants, study what he wants, Karaburan is kept away from Mira and used both by Aurael and Dante. Dante himself is imprisoned by his own revenge and bitter past. Mira, even though she's trapped into the island, is free from the past and thoughts of revenge and punishment. They move on the island as pawns, until they decided, helped by Mira to break free.

It's a book about freedom, revenge, forgiveness, love and sorrow. The story is full of twists, interesting characters and beautifully written, really evocative.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was just okay for me. I felt the story fell a bit flat and it moved too slow. I can see where people would enjoy it, but where I devour books quickly it didn't stick with me. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to review this title.
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The language of this book can be a bit overbearing in description at times, but as a lover of Shakespeare this was a really enjoyable read. There were enough elements of the Tempest to make the connections between the two stories apparent but enough differences to make this feel fresh and new as well.
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