In exile on a remote island, Prospero has spent the past 12 years studying magic and plotting revenge against his enemies, Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian. When all his usurpers pass nearby on the same ship, Prospero creates a storm to smash it to pieces and strand them on the island. Through the magic of his personal servant, the spirit Ariel, Prospero manipulates and terrorizes his enemies, building to a confrontation at the heart of the island in Prospero's domain. But in that time, Prospero's daughter Miranda meets and falls for Alonso's son Ferdinand. And Caliban, another of the island's inhabitants resentful of Prospero's rule, hatches a conspiracy with two of the stranded sailors.
Prospero-like in their artistry, Spirin's dazzling watercolors dominate this retelling of Shakespeare's final play. Shaped like altar panels fit for a Renaissance church or palace, the illustrations are romantic, regal and magical, richly interpreting the play's themes of betrayal, revenge and all-conquering love. A wispy ethereal air pervades island scenes, beautifully suggesting the atmosphere of enchantment, while Antonio and the King of Naples are pictured in brocade and velvet, the stench of power upon them. The other characters, too, are both otherworldly and very much flesh and blood. Especially well rendered is the monster Caliban, shown here as part man, part beast, part mythical creature, a sense of evil glee lighting his features. While this prose adaptation does not, of course, retain the full magic of the Bard's work, Beneduce nonetheless provides an intelligent, gripping story. Several passages from Shakespeare introduced at key points give a taste of the original. Symbols and small pictures integrated into the text further enhance the lavish presentation. All ages.
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