The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

I picked up a signed copy of this at ALA for a $5 donation to the Orlando fund. I was about third in line. I read Winters In the Shadow of Blackbirds back in 2014 and loved it. So I was excited to meet her and get a singed copy of her latest.


The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of Hanalee Denney, a biracial girl living in small town Oregon in the early 1920s. Her father was killed 18 months before on Christmas night when he was hit be a car being driven by the young Joe Adder. When Joe returns to town, Hanalee confronts him, only for him to tell her he was framed for her father’s murder by none other than her new stepfather. Hanalee and Joe form a tentative alliance to get to the bottom of what really happened that night. Both their lives hang in the balance as the town’s true views towards Hanalee and Joe begin to surface. Neither are safe, but Hanalee can’t stop until she uncovers the truth.

This story is a retelling of Hamlet. All the major players are here, but there is a twist to the ending. You don’t need to be familiar with the original Shakespeare to read it, but it might help.

The book has a diverse cast of characters. Two of the male characters are revealed to be LGBT, and of course there’s Hanalee. Winters did her research into the time period and how people of color and the LGBT community were treated, and it shows here. There is even a list of laws in the back that used to discriminate against different minorities. Like her other books, this one is full of pictures

While I liked this outing by Winters, I didn’t like it as well as I did her first. Which surprised me since I love Shakespeare. The story just didn’t keep my interest as much as I hoped. It was a little slow to start, so I think that was it. I also didn’t find myself liking the characters as much as I did with her other book.

For those reasons, I have to give this one only Three Lightsabers.


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