Book Review: The Mercutio Problem by Carol Anne Douglas
Updated: Jan 22
Title: The Mercutio Problem
Author: Carol Anne Douglas
Let me stop you right here! The Mercutio Problem is the second in a series. If you have not read my review on the first in this series Merlin's Shakespeare, then I highly encourage you to do so! I encourage it so much, in fact, that I'm even going to leave link for you to clink on and whisked away to the wonderful review of posts past right here: https://www.wix.com/dashboard/d8e5854a-387b-41fd-86c7-db612271678e/blog/5d73c0107314fc0017e15ccd/edit
What is it about?
Beth is at it again, and only within a couple of weeks from her last adventure! But this time, her mission is a little bit more personal! She is to go back to Shakespeare's plays in the form of Mercutio in order to save him! But, of course, things couldn't be that simple! Not only will she be forced to sacrifice herself for her now dear friend, Richard III has not given up and has furthered his attempt to defend his title as villain, this time by building an army of villains to force a change. A big change. A change that, should it come to pass, would leave all of Shakespeare's plays in the most horribly, dark, bloody and gruesome conditions anyone could imagine! But this time, she's not left to fight on her own! Her best friends for present time Sita, Arnie, Kevin along with some new found pals have managed to work their way into Beth's extra curricular travels and have pledged their help to build their own army and defeat Richard III once and for all...or at least for now. And he has no intentions of going down with out a fight, even if it means taking the fight to Beth's modern life!
What did I think about it?
Well, I thought a lot of things about this...and you may be surprised to hear what they were! The grammatical errors, though still present were much fewer and farther between, allowing for a more smooth and rhythmical reading experience for me. While there was still some "telling" of the story, she did far more "showing" this time around and I loved it! There were still some details I would have liked to have been shown, but the amount was much fewer then in the first book and I even got some answers that I had mentioned I was disappointed about not getting in the first (Beth's hair is brown, by the way). And, as if Ms Douglas anticipated my complaints, she even neglected to add any glittery plot plugs that screamed "look at me!" in, too!
However, there are still a lot of answers that remain unfounded. Questions like "why is Beth's ability so specific?" and "where did this power come from?" still beg to be answered. This list has also been added to with questions about Beth's friends and what they can and can't do. While it is possible to accept these things, it's difficult to do so and, at times, takes some work on the reader's part which is a little disappointing to me.
But over all, I enjoyed the story! There is no denying that the second book was built on a foundation created by Merlin's Shakespeare in what is obviously a darker continuation of the first story. And yes, I did say darker. However, I could also see the two books merging into a 600 page book and, with a slight bit of of work to transition from the first adventure to the second, it would flow smoothly! You may never even know that they were once two instead of one!
But, there's no denying that The Mercutio Problem is, indeed, darker. While Merlin's Shakespeare had some dark moment's they didn't reach the amount found in the second addition. So much of the story line in The Mercutio Problem is revolved around death, avoiding it, chasing it and sometimes causing it. One of Beth's human friends (as apposed to characters in Shakespeare's plays) actually tried to commit suicide! And that's not taking into account that fact that I just laughed less!
But I did love getting to see more characters while meeting old ones along the way, from the witches of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth herself to Bottom, Olivia, King Lear and Othello! The introductions were smooth, purposeful and loaded with enough information to ensure that those familiar with Shakespeare's works were not board with backstory yet those with no knowledge to reference knew all they needed to from character flaws, family feuds and if the character in question falls under the title of "hero" or "villain". And, just as in the first book, I tended to enjoy Beth's time in old England and in Shakespeare's created world more then Beth's current day trials and tribulations, but this time, I felt as if the difference in the degrees of my enjoyment among the various worlds was less then I had experienced in Merlin's Shakespeare.
With all of that being said, below it all, I felt like there was a much deeper level of content in this book. It's almost impossible to read The Mercutio Problem and not ask yourself questions. Are you scared of death? Would you die for someone you care about? Who do you trust and how do you know the answer to that question? Is what's best for the greater good more important then what is best for the few or the one? Where is the line between right and wrong? I felt like it was less of a fun fantasy piece and, instead, transformed the story as a whole into something akin to a chest of philosophical topics demanding to be addressed...and I was not upset by this.
In fact, the first thing I said to anyone after completing this book was a message to my best friend telling her that I wanted more. No really, I not only want more, but I kind of need it! The ending was not altogether unexpected but not at all the way I wanted it to go. While it is an ending that could stand to be the final ending, I'm begging Ms. Douglas to give me more! I need to know if this is really the end of the sega! Is it really as it seems? And is everyone okay emotionally, physically and mentally?
So, I guess you could say she converted me. I went from being unsure of this series when I completed the first book to hoping that this is not, in fact, the end of the series as I need more! There are so many awesome ways it could go from here! I mean, I don't think it'd be a far fetch for Beth to take a break form Shakespeare's world and going to...maybe Lancealot! (hint, hint, Ms. Douglas). I may never find the series perfect, but I'm sold! It's a series worth the read!
What do I rate it?
I give this book a....
out of 5
But that's just what I thought! Have you read these books? Let us know what you thought in the comments!