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Something Wicked

Alan Gratz’s fresh spin on Shakespeare makes superb reading for older teens.

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If young adult literature is the new Rock ’n’ Roll, as some suggest, then author Alan Gratz is Frank Zappa, and his smart, droll remakes of Shakespeare’s tragic hits – Hamlet and Macbeth – should win new converts to the old bard’s gems.

Gratz’s new novel intended for older teens, Something Wicked, based on Macbeth, comes on the heels of his first remake, “Something Rotten,” based on Hamlet.

In that first book, teen sleuth Horatio Wilkes finds something rotten in Denmark, Tennessee: His best friend’s father has just been murdered.

Though the tale follows most of Shakespeare’s original – with a dash of evil environmental pollution thrown in – Gratz succeeds in remaking Horatio into one funny, fresh dude.

Horatio is even better in “Something Wicked.”

He’s a witty, snarky, self-deprecating king of one-liners and inside jokes who never met a metaphor he couldn’t make amusing:
“[A]s awkward as Michael Vick at a PETA rally,” “as white as a suburb,” “as black as a telemarketer’s soul,” “deader than the Confederacy,” a nerdy father and son are “two peas in a pocket protector.”

It’s impossible not to laugh – or at least smile – your way through Horatio’s take on the world. Author Gratz challenges readers, keeps them turning pages, and makes every word count.
“Something Wicked” opens in a strip-mall town at the foot of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon Forge sits like a scar in the earth, a gaping, brightly colored wound festering in the Smoky Mountain sun. It’s not a town; it’s an eight-lane abomination of go-cart tracks, mini-golf courses … and neon orange fiberglass gorillas.”

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