Review: Haunt Me Still

Title: Haunt Me Still Image

Author: Jennifer Lee Carrell

Rating: ★★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: Kate Stanley, Jennifer Lee Carrell’s dauntless Shakespearean scholarturned- director, made a memorable-and New York Times bestselling- debut in Interred with Their Bones. Having chased down her mentor’s killer (and recovering one of Shakespeare’s lost plays in the process), Kate’s fame as a director with an expertise in “occult Shakespeare” catapults her-and Ben Pearl, her partner in crime-solving-into a new production of Macbeth, showcasing a fabled collection of objects relating both to the play and the historical Scottish king for whom it is named.

The Bard’s witch-haunted play is famously cursed, its reputation for malevolence so strong that many actors refuse to quote or even name the play aloud. And as rehearsals begin at the foot of Scotland’s Dunsinnan Hill, it doesn’t take long for the curse to stir. Strange references to the boy actor who first played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s day-and died in the role-pop up. A trench atop Dunsinnan Hill is found filled with blood, and a severed human thumb turns up among the props. And Kate begins sleepwalking, waking early one morning alone atop the hill, her hands smeared with blood.

Kate has no memory of how she got there, but later that day a local woman is found dead on the hill in circumstances that suggest not just ritual murder but ancient pagan sacrifice. With the police more focused on Kate as a suspect than as a possible future victim, she and Ben find themselves in a desperate race to discover a lost version of Macbeth, said to contain rituals of witchcraft aimed at conjuring demonic forces to gain forbidden knowledge. However much Kate would like to dismiss such rituals as superstition, someone else appears willing to kill for them-and for the manuscript said to spell them out.

Marked for sacrifice, can Kate Stanley uncover the killer before she becomes the next victim?

Review: With the provided synopsis explaining the plot so well without providing spoilers (although I’d like to point out there were no severed thumbs…), I would like to jump into what I liked and did not like about this book. First of all, there were more likes than dislikes, which is a good thing. Haunt Me Still is a great book for fans of Shakespeare to read. It appears to have been well-researched, and I learned a lot more about The Scottish Play (one of my favorites!) than I had ever known before. Of course, plenty of the conspiracies and ways of thinking by characters is fabricated and elaborated from fact to add to the suspense, but it all worked in a way that kept me engaged as a reader. I never knew who to trust, or what clue to turn to next; this was a page-turner. Give me some mystery behind the curse of The Scottish Play and I am there.

As for what I did not like: the way that explanations could be a bit tough to follow. As a student of Shakespeare, Kate (and I assume Jennifer Lee Carrell) were able to link information together with far more ease than I could. Often I would have to reread things and then try to summarize what was being said in a way that was much more understandable. And while this was not a problem for me, I can see others being put off by how implausible the likelihood is behind the rituals and their connections to Macbeth. But like I said before, the author took creative liberties to tell a story of suspense — if you can leave your doubts at the door then you will be fine.


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