A Tragedy Indeed: A Wounded Name, Dot Hutchinson

A Wounded Name

A Wounded Name

Dot Hutchinson

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.

Ophelia was enough to make me want to pop a blood vessel.

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.

1.5 stars

320 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 1, 2013 by Carolrhoda Lab
Purchase: The Book Depository + Amazon


22 thoughts on “A Tragedy Indeed: A Wounded Name, Dot Hutchinson

  1. Well, this one doesn’t sound right for me. I read that spoiler and OMFG, how does that even happen? I can already tell that I would hate Ophelia (like I said, I hate most female protagonists). I get pissed off when the main characters are TOO tough but this one clearly is not strong enough. Great review and as always, thanks for keeping me entertained 🙂

    • EXACTLY. The whole time I was just literally screaming in my head at the idiocy of the book and Ophelia. Well, she’s only one female protagonist in a sea of them, so I hope that I don’t come across her kind ever again. Haha, glad you were entertained!

  2. Hahahaha lol. Definitely, if the main character wants to make a single of my blood vessels, well kids, better to stay away from this one!!
    And an unhealthy romance, good Lord, how many do we have to face these days?
    I find that if one can’t connect or sympathize or even feel anything nice towards the protagonist, well then there’ll be simply no enjoyment in the story at all. And if it’s pointless as well… Hmm.
    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one, Meg >< I do hope something better will come your way!
    But lovely review all the same, and very informative too! Thanks for sharing, Meg!! 😀

    • Lol, if your blood vessels aren’t strong enough, you’d probably be dead by the time this book is over! About unhealthy romance: I know! I just can’t understand what’s so appealing about it. Is it somehow NICE to see fellow girls being abused by their “love interests”? Well, if it is, then that person is sick out of their mind.

      I hope so, too! Thanks, Emily!

  3. Awww man this sucks so much! Pointless, question left unanswered novels are the worse- especially if the writing was actually good.

    Fabulous review, Meg! <33

  4. Oh man, you really aren’t having a good run are you! First Conjured and now this!
    A retelling of Hamlet?! I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of a retelling of Hamlet before…it would be really hard to pull off, what with all the ghosts and stuff- I don’t think it’s sufficient just to have Ophelia see the ghosts, when in the original I think it’s everyone (I could be remembering wrongly. It’s been a while).

    Also the way Dane treats her and the major spoiler bit- that happens in the original, so I think that’s probs why the author felt like she had to tack it in somewhere. (Hamlet pretends to be crazy and is abusive towards Ophelia and stuff). Have you read the original play before? If not, maybe the book may have made more sense if you had read the play?

    On another note, OMG YOU’RE READING THE IRON TRAITOR?! BE PREPARED FOR A DISGUSTINGLY CLIFFHANGERY ENDING. It’s actually one of the worst cliffhangers I’ve ever read.

    • It’s just one of those weeks, unfortunately. I haven’t read HAMLET yet, so I can’t really make a comparison, but hmm. It MIGHT have made a little bit of a difference, but since this is still a retelling, I would’ve expected the author to do some things differently! Because Dane — really — he’s too much. I hated him at the end. Hated him.

      I just finished it a couple of hours ago and UGH. I’m so angry I could punch something! I can’t believe Julie would do that — and now we have to wait a freaking year?! ETHAN. KIERRAN. KENZIE. PUCK. MY HEART.

      • Hamlet is actually really good! To be or not to be 😛
        Yeah Dane definitely sounds crappy….

        I KNOWWWW!! Freaking stabbed in the feels! Just the worst 😦

  5. How disappointing! I love the cover! It’s so sad when what’s inside doesn’t match the outside. 😥 I haven’t read Hamlet but the premise of this one sounds really good. Too bad it didn’t work out. I’m actually fine with a sluggish book as long as there is some development at least. But I read the spoiler and JUST NO. Anyway, I’m glad you still appreciated the author’s writing style despite the obvious faults in the story. Great review, Megan!

    • I haven’t read Hamlet either, but Nara (Looking for the Panacea) told me that there were some similar elements between the two, so maybe I might have been a bit more appreciative had I read the play. 😛 Yeah, I still would have disliked the romance, because seriously. That’s unacceptable! Thanks, Hazel. 🙂

  6. Yikes, this one really wound you up. I requested this one on NetGalley and got turned down but it sounds like I had a lucky escape! The pretty cover and the fact that it is a retelling from Ophelia’s pov were what originally caught my attention but the all the things you hated would have annoyed me too.

  7. The first thing I noticed about this book was.. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HER LEGS?! Err.. they look weirdly angled.

    I can tell from the excerpt that the writing is good, bu it’s a shame that the love interest was so.. wtfery. I mean, I read the spoiler and WOW. That’s bad. Add a nonexistent plot and I’ll skip, thank you very much.

    Seriously though, what the hell is wrong with her legs?!

    • OMG, you’re right! Oh well. Ophelia’s a weird girl. Makes sense she’d have weird legs. 😛

      It’s worst than bad. I mean, if my “boyfriend” did that to my dad, I’d bash his head in before calling the cops. Obviously Ophelia doesn’t have her priorities right.

  8. Pingback: Warp Drive Sunday: Oct 6 – Oct 12 | Adrift on Vulcan

  9. Aww you have no idea how sad I’m to hear this. I mean look at that cover and not the mention the blurb. It’s basically calling for you. But well books without plot are pointless to me. I mean I like wonderful writing but there has to be plot somewhere. Great review 🙂

  10. I hate when beautiful writing is overshadowed by bad things. I mean, I can’t forgive abusive male characters (without just cause, redemption or justice) but more than that, this book would drive me nuts if things were never explained. Ophelia’s abilities actually seem interesting, but a plotless plot sounds no fun! I’m surprised you even finished this, Meg. I love Hamlet, so it’s sad that a retelling wasn’t able to work. That play is so packed full of action and intrigue — seems like it would be easy to do the same in a book. But I guess not…

    Argh, I’m still reeling over the example you gave with her father and Dane. Not cool. The guys in this book sound horrible, and it would be hard for me to watch Ophelia accept them back in her life so easily. Great review as always 😀

    • I’ve come across several books like that: TUMBLE & FALL, THE SWEETEST DARK, and now this. *sigh* It’s horrible! Well, I haven’t read the play yet, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. About the spoiler: I know! She supposedly has a best friend who does NOTHING to help her, despite seeing the bruises on her arms and neck. All he does is tell her to promise him not to let Dane do those things to her again. She promises, of course, but doesn’t keep it. I could facepalm her so hard she’d see stars. Thanks, Becca!

  11. It’s so sad that this book is beautifully written and yet there’s still too much ungoodness that it’s only 1.5 stars. Beautiful writing will get me to read through an entire book, but that doesn’t mean I’d enjoy it. Unhealthy relationships in YA, particularly when girls think they need to stay in them for some reason *coughEdwardBellacough* drives me insane. It’s not a good thing. Ugh.

    Great review though 🙂 Love the gif

    • Unfortunately, the beautiful writing didn’t really interest me much into finishing it, but it was because I was about 40% through that I decided to just get it over with. Exactly. It’s offending, too, because not all girls are like that! Haha, thanks, Kim!

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