Darren Dash's Midsummer's Bottom was published in April/June 2018.
Information about Darren Dash:
Darren Dash was born in England in 1972, but has spent most of his life in Ireland. Under the name of Darren Shan, he has sold over 25 million books worldwide, mainly in the YA market. While Darren is as active on that front as ever, he is now also exploring other worlds and different types of stories under the Darren Dash banner, which he uses to keep his adult and YA markets separate from one another.
The Midsummer Players stage an outdoor version of A Midsummer Night's Dream every year on Midsummer's Eve, in a glade in a forest. The actors have a wonderful time, even though they’re dreadful. Audience members appreciate the effort they put in and applaud politely, but almost never attend more than once. Except for...
...the fey folk!
All of the fairies named in the play are obliged to attend every performance, due to a deal that they struck back in the day with a mischievous Master Shakespeare. In an attempt to disband the irksome Midsummer Players on the eve of their twentieth anniversary, Oberon and Puck hire a human agent of chaos to infiltrate the actors' ranks and set them against one another by focusing on secret attractions and grudges that have been lying dormant up to now. Sparks will fly, and everyone will come to blows, but it's all executed with a wink and a grin, and there will be more smiles than tears by the end. At least, that’s the plan...
Inspired by the Bard's immortal play (which it also weaves into its plot), this light-hearted Comedy is a novel in the spirit of the movies Smiles Of A Summer Night and A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, and the musical A Little Night Music. For lovers of Shakespeare, chaos and fairies everywhere.
REVIEW: MIDSUMMER'S BOTTOM BY DARREN DASH
Darren Dash's Midsummer's Bottom is one of the most entertaining novels of the year, because it's filled with details, plot twists, colourful characters and plenty of humour. This light-hearted and amusing novel will delight and entertain readers who want to read good and immersive escapism. I was deeply impressed by the story and found it absolutely charming. I haven't read anything as good and amusing as this since G.S. Denning Warlock Holmes stories (this novel is simply brilliant in its approach to Shakespeare's famous play).
In this novel, the author uses Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as a basis for his story and spices up everything with loads of humour, quirkiness and unrestrained whimsiness. I'm amazed at the author's ability to write this kind of fiction, because the story is highly enjoyable in its quirkiness. If you're fan of Shakepeare's plays, I'm sure that you'll love this novel, because it's simultaneously a kind of a mischievous tribute to Shakespeare and a sparkling parody of his play.
The most important thing about writing this kind of fiction is that an author must be willing to go all the way to create a successful and unique story and not leave things unfinished or unexplored. It's great that Darren Dash goes all the way in his treatment of Shakespeare's famous play and writes shamelessly about many things, because it elevates the story to a whole new level of depth and fascination.
Midsummer's Bottom tells of The Midsummer Players who stage an outdoor version of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream every year on Midsummer's Eve. The play is held in glade in a forest in Limerick. The actors are not very good (actually, they're rather bad and quite dreadful in almost every regard), but they have a wonderful time during the performances. The audience is not very taken by their performances, but the fey folk are obligated to attend each performance no matter how dreadful the performances are, because they struck a deal with William Shakespeare. The fey folk have had enough of the performances and have come to regret the deal, because they've had to suffer through every version of the play during the past four centuries. Oberon, his Queen Titania and Puck have come up with a cunning plan to disband the actors and rid themselves of the performances forever. They hire a human agent, Del Chapman, to cause havoc on the actors by letting him focus on their secret attractions, feelings and grudges...
As you can imagine by this brief synopsis of the happenings, there will be plenty of sparks between the characters. What I've mentioned here is merely the beginning. Things will get much worse for the actors and more hilarious for the readers as Del's plans begin to take shape and affect everyone who's involved in the performance.
The story flows wonderfully from start to finish and has Shakespearean properties: playfulness, surprises and depth. It's fun to read how the actors prepare themselves for the performance and how they have no idea what kind of a conductor of chaos they've allowed to come amongst them. The rehearsals are marvellously entertaining and feature many details that bring enthrallment to the story.
The diverse characters are what brings the story alive and gives it the edge it needs to succeed. I was pleased with the characterisation, because it works well. The author writes fluently about the human characters and also pays attention to the fairies. Each of the characters is portrayed in a believable way and their lives are explored in details.
Here's a bit of information about the characters:
- Del is a man who becomes the instrument of chaos, because the fairies want him to help them disband The Midsummer Players for good.
- Anna is a woman who has married her older teacher, Terence, who is unfaithful to her. She is aware of Terence's affairs with other women.
- Ingmar is a young German man, who is a DJ. He dates an older man, Don.
- Don is a drama teacher. He is a bit worried about his relationship with Ingmar.
- Kate is a young woman who has an affair with Anna's husband, Terence.
- Felix is married to an older woman, Nuala, who writes romantic fiction.
- Diarmid is a banker who lives for his work.
There's also Finn, but in fear of writing serious spoilers I won't say anything about him or his background. I'll only reveal that readers will delight in reading about him and his deeds. He's quite an intriguing character and has an important role to play in the story.
I enjoyed reading about Del, because he was an intelligent man who was a wizard with computers and viruses. His enthusiasm towards computer viruses intrigued me, because he seemed to love the chaos they caused. His becoming of the instrument of chaos is handled brilliantly and offers plenty of entertainment to readers.
The author does his best to bring out the differences between the characters and fleshes out how they feel about each other. Their feelings, insecurities, needs and relationships are deftly explored during the story. It's fun to read about what happens to the characters, because the author doesn't hold anything back, but lets the story go where it needs to go.
Things related to attraction, sex, sexuality and lust spice up the story in a wonderful way. The author writes boldly about heterosexual and homosexual relationships and has an eye for shameless playfulness, which serves as an icing on the cake. The scenes involving sexual elements are written in an unforgettable way and feature plenty of eroticism and unabashed sexuality.
If you're familiar with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, you'll be instantly captivated by this novel, because the author weaves elements from the play to his story in a charming and entertaining way. There's nothing clumsy or forced about the author's way of combining different elements, because everything works perfectly.
The prose is good and the verses and rhymes are beautiful. I enjoyed reading about how Puck and the fairies speak in rhymes, because the author uses quite a lot of Shakespearean language. This kind of poetic language is a pleasure to read.
Midsummer's Bottom has an amazing amount of humour and plenty of underlying sharpness and delicious chaos. When you begin to read it, you'll laugh out loud at various points during the story, because there are many humorous scenes. The author's sense of humour impressed me, because I'm fond of humorous, satirical and parodical stories. His humour is inventive and refined yet raucous and unrestrained. This novel has the best elements of British and Irish humour, because it succeeds in making its readers laugh and grin with amusement and delight.
My final words are:
Darren Dash's Midsummer's Bottom is a novel filled with magic, mayhem and good old-fashioned storytelling that will hook readers from the very first page and takes them on a riveting ride into the enthralling world of actors, fairies and magic dust. Light-hearted and humorous escapism doesn't get any better than this, so please make sure that you'll read this novel as soon as possible. This novel is an excellent summer read and should not be missed by those who love frolicsome and humorous stories with plot twists.