The Scottish Bitch, by Jameson Tabard: 4/5 Stars
The Scottish Bitch by Jameson Tabard is a modern drag queen retelling of the story of Macbeth. I never read Macbeth, but I know most of the story. I think that I enjoyed The Scottish Bitch more because I hadn’t read the original. It was like reading a new story. The characters were well thought-out and held true to the standards previously set by Shakespeare. It was easy to point out the connections to Macbeth. This novel is enjoyable as a stand-alone book, and doesn’t need to be compared to Macbeth to be great.
Everything in this novel is true to the story and eloquently written. The queens are described so I could visualize them while reading. Of course, because this is a retelling of an old story, the reader will know what’s going to happen while they’re reading. I didn’t find that to be bothersome. Even though I knew the outcome, I still enjoyed this fun read.
I found difficulty in deciding who to support. The narration is third person omniscient, so we know the thoughts and feelings of every character. This narration presents trouble when reading. I found, at times, that it was a bit much. I often found that I was reading things I didn’t need to know, or things that I shouldn’t have known yet. Because there are so many characters and we do get to see the world from their points of view, it’s hard to know who the main character is. The primary narrative follows Latrine Dion (Macbeth) in her pursuit to become Duchess in her drag queen circuit. Her husband and other queen’s perspectives interrupt Latrine’s journey. While I believe this distracted from the main storyline, I enjoyed discovering the other characters.
I struggled with the beginning of this book. Intrigue and a great hook were both absent at the start. It required some conscious effort to get through the first few chapters, but I’m glad I did. At around fifty pages, the plot begins to pick up. After this point, I couldn’t put the novel down. While it did take a few chapters to get me engaged, Tabard did a great job of keeping me engaged throughout the rest of the novel.
Tabard does a great job of setting the scene for us in Orlando, Florida. He describes the hotels, apartments, and cityscape well enough and I am transported there while reading. Every setting feels like a real place, and does a great job at pulling me further into the plot.
While the visual descriptions worked well, other portions of the novel were slow or an inconvenience to read. The few dreams sequences dragged on. I don’t think they moved the story along and I didn’t enjoy reading them. These portions were a few pages and occur two or three times throughout. Even though I didn’t enjoy reading them, they weren’t enough to make me put the story down.
Contributions to this article were made by About Magazine editorial assistant, Brandie Larsen.