“The Steep & Thorny Way”
Author: Cat Winters
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Date Published: March 8th, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format Read: ARC provided by publisher for honest review
A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
Cat Winters has done it again. She’s mixed historical horrors with paranormal horrors, and still managed to make the historical ones chill my blood more than the supernatural ones. As soon as I heard that she was writing a reimagining of Hamlet set in 1920’s Oregon, I knew this was going to be one of my most anticipated reads of 2016, and boy oh boy, I wasn’t wrong in assuming it would be quick favorite.
Though Hanalee is Winters’ main protagonist, she doesn’t shy away from adding a secondary lead in the form of Joe. Not only were both of these characters amazing on their own, but when you put them together, actual magic happens. They’re the most unlikely SHIP ever, but even with main plot points being in the way, I still found myself SHIPING them, and then I found myself satisfied with how Winters wrapped those two kids together. They’re a dynamic duo, and one that I’m glad I got to “meet”.
The historical detail that Winters goes into is something to praise. She doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. She puts her characters through the ringer to make sure that history isn’t forgotten. I found myself being shocked by facts about the KKK that I wasn’t privy to before I read this novel. The Klan’s prejudice wasn’t directed at one people group, but a large collection. Jews, homosexuals, and Catholics were also persecuted in the name of their cause, and I applaud Winters for making sure that she added these facts into her story. It’s terrifying, but it’s a part of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Winters also adds in bootlegging, ghosts, and so many twists and turns that you don’t know where to look. This might be Hanalee and Joe’s story, but it’s also a story about the human soul, and it proves that no matter what gets thrown at us, there is always a way to uncover the truth. There is always a time to find true friendship. And there is always a place to finally call home.
Wanna know more? I interviewed Cat over at Bystander Mag, and she has a lot of interesting things to say!
5 Unicorns = Get your hands on this one NOW!