Iago, Shakespeare’s famous villain, has escaped from Cyprus, leaving a trail of corpses behind him. He falls into the hands of Annibale Malipiero, Chief Inquisitor of Venice, who comes up with a method to get Iago to talk: he will imprison him with 15-year-old Gentile Stornello, Desdemona’s bookish, blundering cousin.
Alternating between a third-person narrative and Gentile’s first-person narrative, this is a clever and lively novel, with a rich cast of characters and a nice blend of adventure, romance, humor, and psychological drama. Snodin, a television producer who has worked on the BBC’s Shakespeare series, endows his narrative with suitably Bardic touches, though one needn’t be familiar with Othello or Shakespeare’s other plays to enjoy this novel. The mix of third-person and first-person narratives, which in the wrong hands can be clumsy, is skillfully deployed here.
In his author’s note, Snodin cheerfully admits to taking liberties with both Shakespeare’s play and with his historical setting, but it’s clear that he has a deep respect for both.