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by J.B. Cheaney

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-80577-X
Publisher: Knopf

In a mystery set in Elizabethan London, 14-year-old Richard Malory joins Shakespeare’s theater company and discovers a Catholic plot against the queen. When his mother dies, Richard travels to London to search for his long-absent father. As he struggles to survive he falls into acting with the Lord Chamberlain’s Players and learns that he has real talent. He also learns that his father has been involved in a dangerous conspiracy that leads to the torture and beheading of those whom the Queen’s agents can catch. The double plotlines of the conspiracy and of Richard’s development as an actor illuminate two interesting aspects of Elizabethan history. The political intrigue points to the passions then prevalent against Catholics, and the lively view from inside Shakespeare’s theater demonstrates the excitement and tensions experienced by the actors. Cheaney manages dialogue that rings true to the times, as does his richly flavored writing style. Altogether, the suspense and historical details add up to a spirited introduction to one of the most fascinating periods in history. The book includes a “prologue” and a historical note that discuss the basic history of the period, with a map of Elizabethan London. It might be read as a companion to Gary Blackwood’s The Shakespeare Stealer (1998). (Fiction. 11-13)