Prince Quicksilver of Elvenland has problems of Shakespearean proportions—his rightful claim to the throne has been stolen away by his brother Sylvanus, who murdered their parents and became the illegitimate king. What’s a forlorn, frustrated suspiciously Hamlet-like elf to do? As it happens, Sylvanus has also deigned to steal a mortal wife and child from the land of the inferiors, one shrewlike Anne Hathaway, wife of a 19-year-old son-of-a-glover Will Shakespeare. Will, Quicksilver reasons, would make a perfectly good assassin to right things both in Elvenland and among the mortals. Quicksilver is a changeling who shifts between stunning female and male forms, and, while in female aspect to recruit her mercenary the Lady Silver, falls in love with Will—in an encounter worthy of not a few sonnets. The plot of this debut history/fantasy is predictable simply because we’ve read it before. The sprinklings of Shakespearean prose, delivered off-handedly by elves, perhaps meant to elevate the genre, drag it down instead when it stands beside original lines like: “Will withdrew his dagger and stared at it. It glowed bright red . . . as its good forged iron tasted the blood of fairykind.” Tension emerges from the fact that Quicksilver now loves the assassin Will, but mortals who kill elves die.
Fair execution of an ill conception.