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Review: Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Such Sweet Sorrow
by Jenny Trout

Series: Such Sweet Sorrow #1
Genre: FantasyMythological, Classic Retelling
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: February 4, 2014
by Entangled Teen


Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo…But true love never dies. Though they’re parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he’ll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father’s crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility—a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure, and the chance to avenge his father’s death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn’t surrender souls without a price. . .

◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆

I was drawn to this book by the gorgeous cover and because it is a classic retelling that combines two of Shakespeare's plays. I was really curious about what would happen when Hamlet and Romeo meet each other!

The writing is light and tells the story with a grace and humor that doesn't bog the story down in details. While I'm typically fond of reads that really get into the world building, I was perfectly happy with the levity of the storytelling in Such Sweet Sorrow. It gives a nice contrast to the dark underworld that Hamlet and Romeo enter, showcasing the craziness that they have entered. Hamlet especially fits into this world with his indifferent, yet inquisitive, personality, and plays a nice foil to Romeo's overly passionate yet serious nature. Juliet is a pleasant addition to the narration that I wasn't expecting. She's grown stronger through the trials she's faced in pursuing her love with Romeo, and she holds her own in the company of the two men, owning her vulnerabilities in the face of danger. She's a girl that I can respect.

Another surprise was the Norse mythology that is incorporated into the world building. Though one normally wouldn't associate Norse mythology with Shakespeare, it fits really well into this story because it grounds Elsinore (Hamlet's home) in a somewhat familiar world, and it brings an interesting cast of mythological characters into the Afterjord. I especially love the two ravens and their quirky personalities, Fenrir, and the Fates. Also, I plain love Norse mythology. It's really too bad that we don't get to see any of the Afterjord characters for very long because the trio is always on the move.

The group don't encounter as much danger and excitement as I was hoping to see in their adventures in the Afterjord. While their lives are often in peril, and I like the episodic nature of their journey, they're never in any one danger long enough for the suspense to really build; there isn't a single great threat looming over their heads. On top of that, help even comes to them in the midst of their journey instead of leaving them to figure out what they need to do by themselves. With their lack of knowledge about the workings of the Afterjord and their powerlessness to control where they go next, it does seem like an impossible request to ask them to solves things on their own, but it would help greatly with moving the plot forward in a way other than changing the scenery and having monsters harrass the group.

Though the light writing suits this novel, it could have used a little more world building. The Afterjord is a really interesting world, and I feel there is potential lost in not immersing the reader more in it. In addition, I don't think some of the aspects of the Afterjord have been properly developed. For example, even though Juliet cannot die, why can she feel pain one moment and then later on in the novel, Hamlet decides that she can't feel pain and sends her into battle? There are some other inconsistencies, but I didn't think to take notes at the time and can't remember them off the top of my head. The pacing also got rushed towards the end. As I kept nearing the end of the novel, there were several plot threads that needed wrapping up. The part with Juliet at the end felt especially rushed, and some things weren't touched at all. I'm guessing there's going to be a second novel coming out, but I can't find any information on it at all at this point in time.

Overall, this was a quirky, enjoyable read. I love the three main characters; it was a joy to watch them grow a deep friendship with each other. I was rooting for them the whole journey through the Afterjord and would be interested in reading another book about them. (Especially because there are some plotlines that need to be addressed!)

Additional Information

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On another note
I love the dress on the cover—it's gorgeous, as is the whole cover—but I want to know: is it just me, or does it not really seem represent what the novel is? It also radiates more of a Gothic novel vibe than the lightheartedness that the novel maintains no matter how grim the trio's circumstances may get. It would have been interesting to get a glimpse of the underworld on the cover and maybe have the trio featured instead of Juliet (I'm guessing that's her) alone, especially as Hamlet and Romeo play a larger role in the story.

Favorite passage
Yes, I'm ridiculously, madly in love with Hamlet. He's just so full of witty retorts. This one in particular stood out to me from a conversation he has with Juliet. I'm still laughing over it!
"The last thing I remember, I was rolling down a hill, hoping you hadn't been killed in the fall." She shook her head. "What was wrong with you? We needed to find Romeo. But I couldn't stop you from volunteering to get eaten!"

"You're welcome." When she only stared at him in disbelief, his eyes widened. "What? You're never going to get the chance to push royalty down a hill again. You're just some noblewoman. Do you people even have princes in Italy?"
Excerpt from ARC and may not reflect the finished edition

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