Monday, 22 March 2010

The King of Shadows

The King of Shadows by Susan Cooper: A Review

Nathan Field, a young actor from South Carolina has been chosen to play Puck in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. He is a young man troubled in many ways by losing his father at an early age.

In England, he falls into a coma and wakes to find himself back in Shakespeare's England, one of a group of actors playing A Midsummer Night's Dream. The England of 1599, where poor sanitation, plague, and cut-throats are part of the fabric of the time is so vividly brought to life, the reader can feel it, and smell it; it is so well done, and so clever too, as we explore it through Nat's eyes.

Nathan is taken under Shakespeare's wing, who becomes a father-figure to him, and plays the part of Puck in the play at the new Globe Theatre.

Meanwhile, back in 1999, a boy believed to be Nathan is feverish in a hospital bed in London. Doctors are amazed to realise he has caught the bubonic plague, a condition fortunately treatable by modern antibiotics.

But I'm not going to say what happens next. Read it yourself....

In case you are wondering, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon is described by Puck as the "king of shadows," telling us that as poet and playwright, Oberon is a master of the art; so equally, it can be seen that Shakespeare himself is "the king of shadows" in the theatre, , the place of shadows.

This is a magical book, which lingers in the mind long after having finished it.

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