Del Chapman is a con man, a trickster with no desire to lead an ordinary, boring, conventional life. So he’s willing to listen when the airy spirit Puck pays him a visit, with a proposition for him from Oberon, King of the Fairy Realm. It seems that William Shakespeare had help when writing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, help from the fairies themselves, and as part of that help, the fairies became bound to attend every single performance of that play. Including, unfortunately, a singularly dreadful rendition put on by a small company of amateurs every Midsummer for the past nineteen years. The fairies want Del to disrupt this, their twentieth performance, by setting the actors against each other and ruining the play. But when he tries, with the help of a changeling raised in the fey realm, he finds some rather unpredictable results…
MIDSUMMER’S BOTTOM is a mischievous and playful take on Shakespeare’s work, and on the quirks and oddities of theater people. It is in places rude, naughty, outrageous, and very funny – in other words, completely true to the spirit of the play on which it is based. However, Dash never forgets that his characters are human beings – in places, he walks a fine line between humor and pathos, but never stoops to cruelty or thoughtless mockery. It’s easy to laugh at the situations the characters find themselves in – but also to sympathize with the characters themselves, to grieve for their heartaches and want to see them given their appropriate happy endings.
Even the fairies’ frustrations are understandable, and their desire to see themselves free of their burden not unreasonable. The tendency of the fairies to speak in rhyme is a cute little affectation that does usefully separate them from the human characters, but it sometimes proves more distracting than useful in the course of the book. The plot unravels itself in delightful ways up until the book nears its end, then starts raveling itself up tidily again, rather like a Shakespearean comedy – a bit predictable, but still entertaining.
MIDSUMMER’S BOTTOM is a thoroughly Puckish take on the original play, reflecting and refracting its mischief through modern lenses – a delight for the devotee of Shakespearean comedy.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader