Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother. Now, in the wake of the Headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster’s ghosts two of them on the school grounds. Her only confidante is Dane, the Headmaster’s grieving son. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane spirals toward a tragic fate dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him. You know how this story ends. Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make and a promise to keep.
I remember death. I remember the silence and the stillness, the absolute serenity. I remember that there was no fear, no dread of something after. This constant terror, this uncertainty, this unceasing pain didn’t exist, but beyond the gates of Elsinore, they exist in abundance.
Much like Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst, A Wounded Name was senseless… and also plot-less. And it’s such a shame, because here is a pretty cover that actually suits the story, and Dot Hutchinson has gorgeous writing that further adds to the mysterious atmosphere surrounding Elsinore Academy. However, these things just weren’t enough to redeem the book for me. A stupid protagonist, no sense of story, and an abusive love interest aren’t things that are easily overlooked.
Summary: A modern retelling of Hamlet, A Wounded Name narrates the story of Ophelia, a girl who can see things no one else can, and a girl whom her very own father fears. Things don’t get much better when the headmaster of Elsinore Academy, a prestigious school where boys go to make a name for themselves and girls become trophy wives, is discovered dead. His son, Dane, can hardly keep himself together, and as he travels down the mad path of revenge, he drags Ophelia down with him.
It is one thing for a book to lack purpose. It is something else entirely for it to lack a plot. And unfortunately, these two things are precisely what happened with Dot Hutchinson’s debut. I went into this without any idea of what to expect, other than that it was a retelling of the Shakespeare play, Hamlet. I came out of this with a boggled mind, asking myself what, exactly, had I just read? What was I supposed to gain? I get that this was a story about revenge, but I saw no part of revenge in Ophelia’s own story. And I sure as hell didn’t get the paranormal aspect of this book.
Ophelia is a girl who is able to see things no one else can: ghosts, sidhes, and other paranormal things not of this world. I, being the logical reader that I am, was looking forward to the time when everything would be explained. Why could she see these when no one else could? Why did they even exist in the first place? But when my progress hit the 90th percentile and there was still no sign of an explanation coming around, needless to say, I was infuriated. If there’s one thing other than a slow pace that I can’t stand, it’s the fact that the goings-on in a book is not properly explained to the reader. How am I supposed to enjoy a book that I can’t understand?
The worst thing is that it wasn’t only the multitude of questions that were left unanswered that brought down my opinion. The characters were a sorry bunch, to say the least, and more than once, I was tempted to throw my e-reader right across the room and then mourn over the lack of a strong protagonist in this story. Don’t get me wrong — I’m totally fine with “wimpy” characters in books. Sometimes, they’re even refreshing. But I felt that Ophelia was too much. After the Headmaster’s death, his son, Dane, starts to take a very active interest in Ophelia. They have their sweet moments, but then their relationship starts taking a turn for the worse, with Dane growing increasingly unpredictable and rough. He grips her wrists so hard that they bruise. He is forceful toward her. There was even once when he had his hands around her neck and squeezed, for crying out loud! If you want more evidence, then highlight the following words (it’s quite spoilery): Dane also murders her father — accidentally, of course — but she still has feelings for him and still accepts him. This… this is unacceptable! And what made things unbearable was how Ophelia let him. She let him do all these things to her, and justified it by saying that she was the kind of person who couldn’t walk away, or that Dane needed her.
Woman, if there’s one thing I know about unhealthy relationships, it’s that if a man abuses you in that way, he most definitely does not need you, and you most definitely need to walk the hell away.
The book was… sluggish, to say the least. There were interesting bursts of story from time to time, but on the whole, much of it was spent with Ophelia repeating things over and over again and going on and on about promises and how she keeps breaking them. Look, Ophelia. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re going to keep breaking promises, then maybe you shouldn’t make them in the first place. God! It’s really not hard to grasp.
The only redeeming quality of the book — and hence the half star — was the fact that Dot Hutchinson has beautiful writing. By beautiful, I mean gorgeous. She has a way with words that leaves behind a very haunted feeling, and the mystery surrounding Ophelia and Elsinore Academy adds to that.
“What we do for love… it can be wonderful, the best of all that man has to offer. But sometimes… sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes what we see is far from the best it could be.”
Which is worse, to struggle to fly against the tether that always snaps you back? Or to accept the tether with such blind contentment that you don’t mind when your wings are clipped?
The song of the bean sidhe is soft now, almost done, just a whisper, an echo. The death they might grieve forever, but they mourn only the ghost that is sorrow.
I loved her writing. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much to save the book.
My biggest issue was Ophelia. If only she’d been more forceful, more concerned about the welfare of herself, then maybe, maybe, I would have enjoyed this book better. But alas, her utter stupidity and the lack of a storyline were too much, and I think it’s safe to say that A Wounded Name will be my first and last book by Dot Hutcinson.
Who is this book for?
No one. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone who’d like this, unless you’re looking for beautiful writing.