Thanks to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 10th, 2021
Synopsis: In this lush, magical, queer, and feminist take on Hamlet in modern-day New York City, a neuro-atypical physicist, along with his best friend Horatio and artist ex-fiancé Lia, are caught up in the otherworldly events surrounding the death of his father.
Meet Ben Dane: brilliant, devastating, devoted, honest to a fault (truly, a fault). His Broadway theatre baron father is dead—but by purpose or accident? The question rips him apart.
Unable to face alone his mother’s ghastly remarriage to his uncle, Ben turns to his dearest friend, Horatio Patel, whom he hasn’t seen since their relationship changed forever from platonic to something…other. Loyal to a fault (truly, a fault), Horatio is on the first flight to NYC when he finds himself next to a sly tailor who portends inevitable disaster. And who seems ominously like an architect of mayhem himself.
Meanwhile, Ben’s ex-fiancé Lia, sundered her from her loved ones thanks to her addiction recovery and torn from her art, has been drawn into the fold of three florists from New Orleans—seemingly ageless sisters who teach her the language of flowers, and whose magical bouquets hold both curses and cures. For a price.
On one explosive night these kinetic forces will collide, and the only possible outcome is death. But in the masterful hands of Lyndsay Faye, the story we all know has abundant surprises in store. Impish, captivating, and achingly romantic, this is Hamlet as you’ve never seen it before. (Goodreads)
I loved Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele which is an imaginative reworking of Jane Eyre, so when I saw The King of Infinite Space, which tackles one of my favorite Shakespearean tragedies, Hamlet, I unhesitatingly requested it on NetGalley. I have to admit in the beginning I started to get a little nervous. There were multiple characters, a lot of information and background being relayed, and so much going on overall, I briefly floundered trying to grasp the myriad of threads and wondered what had I gotten myself into. Thankfully, by the time I was at the 10% mark, I had been completely pulled into this magical, queer and feminist spin on the classic tale.
This is definitely a strongly character driven novel. Everyone in it is flawed, complex, and compelling. The way they love and care about each other tugged at my heartstrings and had me hoping for a happy ending despite knowing the tragic outcome of the classic it’s based on. I wasn’t as fond of Lia’s chapters as she’s off working with three mystical florists and struggling to overcome her addiction. For me I was much more invested in Ben’s and Horiatio’s as they attempt to deal with their relationship as well as solve the central mystery. Lyndsay Faye’s writing style is breathtakingly beautiful and the contemporary setting of New York City adds a further surprisingly rich layer to a concoction that’s already full to the brim of varying elements. The ending, well, if you’re familiar with Hamlet, you won’t be shocked when I warn you to have a box of tissues nearby.
In the end, The King of Infinite Space isn’t perfect, but it’s a uniquely imaginative revision that succeeds on almost every level, and will undoubtedly please a great many fans of Hamlet as well as those who haven’t read it. Best of all it’s proof that in the right hands, a retelling of even a well known classic, can bring it to life in a fresh new way.