King of Shadows

For some reason, it hadn't really occurred to me that Susan Cooper might have written other books after she finished the superb Dark Is Rising series. Luckily for me, she did, and the first one I've laid my hands on is King of Shadows. Time slip! Shakespeare! Two of my favourite things! So I knew I was onto a winner.

And it is. Nat Field, a young American actor brought over to London to play in the 'new' Globe theatre, wakes up one morning to find himself not just in Shakespeare's London, but part of Shakespeare's company. Cooper manages with a light touch to evoke the atmosphere of Elizabethan times and the bustling but much smaller city, and also weaves in Nat's emotional journey with a gently political plot.

It was a little disorienting to read yet another version of William Shakespeare, having recently re-read Antonia Forest's The Players and the Rebels, which covers much of the same ground and characters (the clown Will Kempe, distinguished actor Richard Burbage etc), and even watching the Doctor Who episode, The Shakespeare Code, filmed in the Globe itself. All these different versions of Will's world, overlapping, contradicting, reinforcing, much as the different iterations of Shakespeare's play echo down the centuries. But I can't help feeling that Will himself would approve.


  1. I loved this one! It was great to see his father-son relationship with Shakespeare, and the fantastical elements were well done. Yes, we know you like time-slip! :-)

    Have you read Ghost Hawk? That one reminds you she lives in the US now, and is set in 17th century America, with a friendship between an Indigenous American boy and an English one - with a twist! (Well, this IS Susan Cooper, who does fantasy).

    I also recommend the Boggart novels.

    The Dark Is Rising may be her masterpiece, but she has done some good stuff since then anyway.

  2. Yes, it was lovely that Nat had lost a father and Will had lost a son, it was beautifully done.

    Ghost Hawk sounds great -- will definitely look out for that one.