Oklahoma Christian University alumnus Luke Swanson became a bestseller with his book The Other Hamlet Brother. It reached no. 2 on the Oklahoma Bestsellers list on Aug. 22, 2021. Swanson published the book on Feb. 11, 2021 with Black Rose Publishing and has gained fans since.
Oklahoma Christian’s website describes Swanson’s first comedy as “tragi-comedy about the long-lost sibling of Shakespeare’s famously melancholy prince.” Tim Hamlet has been trying (and failing) to succeed a playwright in London until he receives notice his father has died, his Uncle Claudius has taken the throne, and his twin, Hamlet, has turned belligerent and odd. Tim meets several familiar faces, including Romeo Montague and Prospero, on his way home as he inches steadily towards his fate.
Fans have praised the book, calling it “action-packed,” “playfully audacious” and a “fast-moving adventure.” It has earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Sublime Book Review and Amazon.
Reviews say the book is both funny and moving.
“The sly wit that Mr. Swanson artfully includes in the dialogue is equal to what we expect to read in the Bard’s writing,” one Barnes and Noble review said. “On the flip side, this story also deals with weighty topics such as fate versus free will, honor, the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, and finding your reason for being.”
Many reviews say Swanson’s book had them “captivated” by the first chapter. The book starts from the perspective of King Claudius, who considers his past as he learns about Hamlet’s sudden turn into madness. Swanson elaborates on Shakespeare’s world with descriptions of characters and scenes never before mentioned in the original play. The history of Shakespeare’s world expands its borders to encompass Swanson’s new world.
Swanson also blends modern language with Shakespearean-style speech. His characters crack jokes and banter like today’s generation while also referencing Shakespeare’s old English. One Sublime Book review says this combination works well.
“The contemporary language and modern references create some laugh-out-loud moments, while other scenes capture the difficult and heart-breaking emotions found in the classic tragedy.”
Fans describe the book as fitting a multitude of genres, including comedy, tragedy, mystery, fantasy and literary fiction. Several reviews call it a nod to Monty Python, Gulliver’s Travels and A Knight’s Tale for its metanarrative and bittersweet humor.
Swanson has also published several short stories within anthologies published by Limitless Publishing. His short stories fit within the horror genre, although Swanson still laces them with humor. The anthologies, no longer in print, are limited in their availability. However, Swanson’s story in the anthology Carnival of Strange Things is available as a preview on Amazon.
Swanson has also published an original novel, The Ten, in 2016, also by Limitless Publishing. The Ten is a suspenseful serial killer thriller with a religious bent. The main character also appears in Swanson’s short story “Sacrifice” in the Déja Vu Anthology.
Swanson recently hosted an event “An Afternoon with Oklahoma Authors – featuring The Other Hamlet Brother” on Aug. 14 at the Best of Books in Edmond. He has no other events currently listed on his website. Fans of Swanson can follow him on his Instagram or Facebook pages.