Midsummer's Bottom

Fiction - Fantasy - General
459 Pages
Reviewed on 06/04/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Darren Dash is better known as Darren Shan, under which name he has sold over 25 million books worldwide, mainly in the YA market. While Darren is still in love with the world of YA and as active on that front as ever, he is now also exploring other worlds with his adult works, as Darren Dash.

Darren's real name is Darren O’Shaughnessy. He was born on July 2, 1972, in London, but is Irish (despite the strong Cockney accent that he has never lost) and has spent most of his life in Limerick in Ireland, where he now lives with his wife and son.

Darren went to school in Limerick, then studied Sociology and English at Roehampton University in London. He worked for a cable television company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer at the age of 23. He has been incredibly prolific -- Midsummer's Bottom is the 50th book that he has published in just over 19 years.

A big film buff, with a collection of nearly five thousand movies on DVD, Darren also reads lots of books and comics, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art, modern art, and sculptures. Other interests include long walks, going to soccer matches (he’s a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan), listening to pop and rock music, theatre, worldwide travel, sampling the delights of both gourmet cuisine and finger-licking junk food, and dreaming up new ways to intrigue and entertain his readers!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

The denizens of Feyland, as described in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, are fed up! Due to a pact made with the erstwhile bard, they are forced to attend every performance of the whimsical play and the performances of one particular company are proving very tiresome indeed. Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash tells how Oberon, unable to interfere in human affairs directly, tasks the character Puck with finding a human with enough guile and disruptive energy to break up the awful players for good. Enter Del Chapman, a troublesome free spirit who delights in creating havoc wherever he goes. Assisted by Puck, he inveigles himself into the troupe at the start of their annual two-week preparation for the midsummer night performance. Slowly he manages to undermine, demoralize and enrage the players. He is not a cruel man, however, and it is done in a light-hearted, humorous way. Encouraged by his subversive machinations, the actors find themselves in situations they had never dreamed of, reflecting on their lives and relationships, experimenting with their sexuality, and trying hard to come to terms with what they find out in the process. The troupe’s annual productions are notoriously bad, but by a series of unlikely circumstances a huge audience with folk standing at the back and the luckless faeries hovering in the shadows are all crowded into the forest glade which is their stage. Will the players manage to overcome their engineered differences and put on a show, or will Del Chapman succeed in scuppering the company once and for all?

Midsummer’s Bottom is a delightful book with the lyrical words of the bard and the theme of his magical work intertwined into the story line. Darren Dash displays a profound knowledge of the play and a deft hand with his characterisation of the principal players. His narrative moves along at a brisk pace, probably more so than the play, and the characters are solid and well drawn. By the end of the book I felt I knew each one intimately and, as with any good story, was concerned about what would happen to them. But I need not have worried - Mr Dash is an accomplished wordsmith and brings the chaos to the sort of satisfying finale that, had I been in a theatre, I would have stood to applaud. This book will surely appeal to fans of the theatre as well as performers, professional and amateur alike. Not only will you enjoy the peerless prose, cringe at the fluffed lines, and laugh at the muddled entrances, but by stealth you will also learn much about Shakespeare’s play. I thoroughly enjoyed Midsummer’s Bottom and do not hesitate to recommend it.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Midsummer's Bottom by Darren Dash was inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is a comedic tale of ordinary folk and faeries. Every year, when Midsummer’s Eve falls, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is staged as an outdoor play by the Midsummer Players. The acting is nothing short of terrible, but they all have great fun and the audience show their faint appreciation; most never return to watch again though, except for the Fey. Any faerie whose name appears in the play must attend every year because they struck a deal with Mr. Shakespeare himself. On the 20th anniversary, the Fey decide they want the Midsummer Players disbanded so they never have to come back again, and they hire a human to pit the actors against one another. Will the Faeries win and never have to watch another dreadful performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or will the Midsummer Players just get on with it in their own inimitable style?

Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash is an amusing tale loosely based on the official play. It’s a different kind of story, a real mixture of chaos, hilarity, and faeries. I did find it a little difficult to get into, but I soon got into the swing of it and found myself eagerly wanting to know how the story would play out. This tale is very cleverly written, with excellent characters, each developed in their own way and kind of likable. You can’t help but grin at the antics of the faeries and the players alike, and you will want to take sides – whether you stick with the side you chose is another matter! Overall, an interesting and funny story, well worth taking the time to read.

Melinda Hills

Del Chapman is a self-styled bad boy and enjoys upsetting the status quo in Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash. As Del moves on from his latest misadventures, he is confronted by the master of all mischief makers, Puck himself. Having been observed by the fairies Oberon and Titania, Del has been chosen to help them solve a 400-year-old problem – having to watch every performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As if the repetition wasn’t bad enough, they are forced to sit through the efforts of a local troupe, The Midsummer Players, who are not much better than awful, and this will be the twentieth year!

Del takes the job of trying to sabotage the theatre group’s efforts and adds plenty of fun and confusion to the process, turning up the heat on simmering resentments, unsatisfying relationships and everyone’s basic need for love and approval. With the help of the fairies and his own love for chaos, Del orchestrates events to bring about the greatest possible confrontations between the players so that the play may never be presented in this small Irish glade ever again. What results is near mayhem with loads of comic interactions, overplayed outrage and the chance for everyone to make a clean break.

Darren Dash has masterfully combined Shakespeare’s style and greatness with his own amazing poetic agility to create an absolutely delightful tale that will make you laugh until you cry. Blending his own characters into the format of the famous play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dash provides you with an engaging story full of twists, turns and surprises. Midsummer’s Bottom is truly an enjoyable story that you cannot help but love. Positively delightful and wonderfully written! I was skeptical of a 'retread' of Shakespeare, but this is very cleverly done and quite entertaining. Bravo!