Harkup leaves no stone unturned in her immensely thorough and compelling distillation of the Bard's work ... Through an intricate dissection of Shakespearean plays, Harkup breaks down and analyzes methods of death, destruction and peril, and delves into how Elizabethan actors might have been bloodied up for battles of war using lye or slow coagulating sheep's blood ... Harkup's expertise leans toward the scientific. Her riveting storytelling, however, is refreshingly accessible. Her narrative will attract and intrigue readers who appreciate the macabre, eager for the enriching wisdom offered by two masters in their fields.
Harkup’s entertaining Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, stabbings and broken hearts uses Shakespeare as the lens to understand the physiology of death in pre-modern times. She is relentlessly, and sometimes illuminatingly, literal ... Death by Shakespeare is pleasingly visceral ... Harkup’s untroubled method toggles between real bodies and their fictional presence on stage. Some of the Shakespearean material is a little uncertain ... Death in Shakespeare is often encountered as gruesomely bodily and darkly comic, rather than as meaningful or sublime: more Hammer than hamartia. Harkup’s enjoyable and informative survey presents this somatic Shakespeare for the Horrible Histories generation.