Malediction: The Cursed Play
Review by Kingsley Gittins
Sean Guy’s novel, Malediction: The Cursed Play, is an engaging and well-written tribute to all things Shakespeare. The story takes the form of a reverse whodunnit, where the actors in a cursed play are all alive, but they’re convinced the curse will take one of their number before the performance is complete.
The setting is fictional, but has a very strong Elizabethan England feel. Readers will recognise elements of the great bards work reflected in the variety of characters on show. Indeed, this is where the The Cursed Play really shines, the distinctive and interesting performers bring the action to life. This interplay creates the feeling of a performance for the reader, which will have you engrossed for hours.
The central mystery of the novel is a sound one, with enough red herrings and twists to keep even the most avid Sherlock Holmes fan guessing right until the very end. Readers will find themselves picking their favourite characters and rooting for their survival as tensions rise over the course of the narrative.
While primarily focused on showcasing the classic tragedies of Shakespearean theatre, there are a number of interesting supporting themes at play. The tension between old stick-in-the-mud male actors and the newly enfranchised female performers adds value and a contemporary relevance to the story.
I highly recommend this book, especially to those who love a good murder-mystery novel. The prose and pacing allow for an engaging read, and the high-brow Shakespeare is subtly incorporated. The story is well written and the characters are excellent. Best of all, Sean is a local Darwin author and can be found running The Bookshop in the CBD. If this work proves anything, it’s that supporting local authors can be a lot of fun.
Sean Guy is an author and manager of the independent bookstore, The Bookshop Darwin.
Kingsley Gittins works for NT Writers’ Centre, Darwin. This review was first published in Off The Leash.