SUCH SWEET SORROW is one of the weirdest fantasy novels I've ever read, and I honestly kind of loved that about it. The book is about Hamlet and Romeo making an unlikely alliance to go into an underworld rooted in Greek and Norse mythology, braving trials and dangers to rescue Juliet and bring her back.
Hamlet, when we meet him, is still grieving over the loss of his father and filled with fury over Claudius's betrayal. He's not just the Prince of Denmark, he's also a seer who can communicate with the dead and who acts as a guardian for the portal into the underworld. Romeo comes to his kingdom after communicating with a witch of the toil and trouble variety, and as luck would have it, Hamlet is the first person he and his friar buddy speak to when asking around about the seat of a murdered king. Oops.
The journey to the underworld is honestly really well done. Other reviewers have said that the author throws in one supernatural being after another, which is true. Right when they first get into the tunnel, they run into valkyries, and then shortly after that it's ice trolls, then sirens, a giant maggot worm, the Elysian fields, and even Fenrir himself. It really shouldn't have worked, but each scene was so well developed and there were some truly horrific moments in here, like the mirror hall and the thing with the buffet table, that served up chills.
In case you didn't know, Jenny Trout is the same person as the Jennifer Armintrout with an 'I' that I've been book-stalking over these past few weeks. I'm halfway done with her Armintrout backlist, and thought it might be fun to mosey on over to her Trout list and check out her first young adult novel. It can be hard for adult writers to switch over to YA, and vice versa. While there is a lot of cross-over appeal, they're marketed in different ways and have different standards with regards to sex, violence, and language. I honestly thought Trout did a great job keeping true to her trademark edginess while also shading it for a YA-appropriate audience. The only qualm I have is that the ending was totally gearing things up for a sequel, and yet I see no sequel before me. What's with that, huh?
If you want to read something strange that shouldn't make sense, but does, and follows that dark young hero's journey in the vein of stories like Mirrormask and Coraline, check out this book.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars