It has been quite some time since I read Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I think it must be at least a dozen years, as my wife laughs, telling me to double that…and then some. I don’t consider myself to be a Shakespeare expert, but I’ve read a handful of his plays and enjoyed most of them. Macbeth is by far my favorite.
Jo Nesbo has done a bang-up job of recreating the feeling that I had when I read Shakespeare’s play of the same name: the darkness, the cold-heartedness, the haunting regret. Nesbo has taken the original and brought it into the twenty-first century. For that part, I loved the book.
As I got further into the story, I struggled. I don’t know if it was timing, the story or what, but at about seventy percent I was ready for the story to be over. I was reading, not because I wanted to know what would happen (it’s based on a tragedy, we all know how they end), I was reading to get this story over with so that I could move on to my next book. Not really the way I want to finish a book.
In a strange sort of way, Macbeth got me thinking about Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Eat It.” I loved that song, but if it had been an original song and not a reworking of such a brilliant hit, would it have shone quite as strong? In the same way, if it weren’t for the feeling that this Macbeth brought back, would I have enjoyed it as much? That is the million dollar question.
I’m not one to back off of or get intimidated by a large book, but I found Macbeth to be a bit more of a commitment than a joy. I appreciate what Nesbo did in recreating a story I loved in my youth.
By Jo Nesbo
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