Such Sweet Sorrow, by Jenny Trout

As books go, Jenny Trout's YA novel Such Sweet Sorrow is a bit of a mess—albeit an interesting, ambitious mess, with flashes of something that could have been great. I can't ignore its flaws, but let me give credit where credit is due: this story would make a spectacular video game, full of world-building and action.

Such Sweet Sorrow takes place after the events of Romeo and Juliet and before Hamlet. Romeo's “poison” turns out to be just as temporary as Juliet's, and he can't face life without her. Determined to rescue his wife from death, Romeo consults a witch, who sends him on a quest to find Hamlet, the brooding son of Denmark's recently-murdered king. In addition to the throne (which is currently occupied by his uncle), Hamlet inherited another responsibility from his father: he must guard a secret portal to the Afterjord, the realm of the dead. When Romeo arrives, Hamlet agrees to allow him access to the portal... and when Romeo yanks his new acquaintance into the Afterjord with him, Hamlet recklessly decides to explore further.

Unfortunately, the central relationship in Such Sweet Sorrow—Romeo and Hamlet's friendship—is never very well developed. I was much more interested in Juliet, who, despite not entering the story for nearly 100 pages, is ten times as effective as her male counterparts. Juliet's narration is limited, but even the brief glimpses we get of her perspective are more interesting than Romeo's single-minded determination or Hamlet's snideness. (Actually, all of the story's female characters are more complex and intriguing than the dudes. We never even see Gertrude, but Hamlet's memories of her are still more interesting than Claudius, and I'd happily read an entire book about Trout's portrayal of a crafty, marriage-minded Ophelia.) I have no idea if there will be a sequel to Such Sweet Sorrow, but if so, I hope it relegates the male characters to supporting roles, and focuses far more heavily on Juliet's (and maybe Ophelia's) struggle to achieve her own version of a happily-ever-after.
Posted by: Julianka


No comments yet. Be the first!

No new comments are allowed on this post.