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✵ Book Review│Laertes by Carly Stevens

About the Book

Set in 1920s Europe, this poignant dark academia novel sheds new light on Shakespeare’s masterpiece, finally allowing Laertes to tell his side of the story.

Laertes Belleforest lives two lives: a wild, passionate one with his best friends studying Classics in Paris, and a stifling existence in the Danish court where the mercurial prince Hamlet constantly overshadows him.

Now in his last year at university, Laertes must decide the kind of man he will become. But who is he, apart from the huge personalities that surround him and the secret guilt that haunts him?

When tragedy rocks Denmark, Laertes’ questions are forced into focus. Like a Greek play, his story hurtles through love and wine, ghosts and revenge, toward inevitable catastrophe.

For fans of If We Were Villains

My Review

Eep, I finally get to talk about this book! Author Carly Stevens has crafted a startlingly beautiful dark academia retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. As someone who has yet to read the play, I could still understand the characters and story well. I’m sure I missed a lot of references that Hamlet fans would love, but ah well! Because of this book, the original play has become one of my top to-reads.

As someone who loves dark academia, I was enchanted by the university setting of the story. I also thought that Laertes’s love for his sister was especially beautiful, and Stevens has conveyed the tragedy of each character oh so well. Laertes is a character that deserves his story told, and Stevens has done just that.

Content Warnings

Because of the adult nature of this book, I wouldn’t recommend Laertes to any readers who are uncomfortable with mentions of suicide, suicidal attempts, and/or intimate scenes. One character attempts suicide while another is said to have committed suicide. Many characters die. Two characters take things to far and kiss and have sex, and this ruins a relationship.

Please note that I was a beta reader for this book and that I received an ARC copy of it as well. All thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own, and I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you make an Amazon purchase through Books by Starlight, you will be supporting this blog and its content at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

10 thoughts on “✵ Book Review│Laertes by Carly Stevens

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    1. I was gonna be like, “Laertes is the one who…” and accidentally spoil something important. 😳 But anyway, he’s the son of Polonius and the brother of Ophelia (Hamlet’s love interest of sorts). I’m not quite sure he was real buddies with Hamlet, but I’m thinking that wouldn’t be too inaccurate. 😊


    1. IKR! This book is absolutely perfect for people who love dark academia. I haven’t ever heard of a Hamlet retelling from Laertes’s point of view before (although there are quite a few from Ophelia’s, I think!), so this is exciting. Thanks for reading my review. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oooh, okay! 😍 Dark academia playlists on YouTube are the best, by the way. In fact, I’m listening to one right now! (Aaaand that’s your cue to go listen, too! 😉😆)


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