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In her impressive first novel, Klein retells Hamlet, expanding on the romance between its hero and Ophelia, who narrates this version. Keeping true to the framework of the play, the heroine, now 16, reports the tragic events in the troubled Elsinore castle. When she first speaks to Hamlet, Ophelia is a 10-year-old ragged tomboy tagging along after her brother, Laertes. A year later, Ophelia is accepted into Queen Gertrude's court ("Becoming a lady, I learned, was not easy"), and she grows into a beautiful, rather outspoken young woman with an interest in herbs. Her quick wit attracts the prince's attention, and their Shakespearean-style banter will delight readers. Hamlet and Ophelia secretly become husband and wife, and on their wedding night, the ghost of Hamlet's father appears at the castle; Horatio, at the stroke of midnight, barges into the newlyweds' bedroom calling, "To the ramparts, Hamlet. It comes!" Readers familiar with the play will know that Hamlet's feigned madness to seek revenge eventually proves to be his undoing. As things rage out of control, Ophelia fears for her own safety ("My life... is worth no more than a beast's"). Klein smoothly weaves in lines from the play and keeps her characterizations true to the playwright's, even as she rounds out the back story. Teens need not be familiar with Shakespeare's original to enjoy this fresh take—with the added romance and a strong heroine at its center. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.