King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Oh this is good.
The protagonist, Nat Field, is a young actor who has come over to play at the Globe with his company. Somehow he goes to bed feeling ill and then wakes up in Shakespearean England. With Shakespeare. The rest of the novel is concerned with his adventures in this time period and also what happens when he returns to his ‘normal’ life.
And like I said, it’s very very good. There’s a heartrending moment when Nat almost falls in love with Shakespeare and Cooper conveys this hero worship with kindness and a light, nonjudgemental touch. There’s a lot of warmth throughout the text, Nat and his love of his work, and Cooper and her patent love for Shakespeare.
The ending is excellent, genuinely so, but I can see how it may prove divisive. It’s admittedly stagey but that reflects the topic of the book quite well so I felt it fitted. This is the only part where it lost a mark for me.
One of my pet hates with time-travel or historic books is that the side detail overwhelms the central thread of the story. Didn’t happen here. What detail there was was very seamless and nicely interwoven. Good work all round and well worth a read.
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