Sunday, 23 June 2013

80 Books No.41: King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

I need to re-read this book really, despite only having finished it yesterday. I think I'd appreciate it more on a second run-through as I think I expected a different pace and climax which then put the whole structure of the novel off kilter for me. Despite this, I'm genuinely considering buying a class set for school, and these are the reasons why...

King of Shadows is about Nat, a young American actor who is in the midst of rehearsals for a version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then he falls ill and wakes up in 1599, where he's rehearsing for A Midsummer Night's Dream with Shakespeare himself. You know, what usually happens when you have a vomiting bug, right?

Things happened quite quickly in this book, and Nat accepts his transportation to 1599 exceptionally quickly, which did irritate me somewhat; however, like Black Swan Rising, if he'd taken forever to adapt it would have been a very dull 100 pages or whatever. There's probably something in this for me to learn in my own writing. The pace of the novel never really dipped which means this will likely appeal to teenagers, especially reluctant readers. I think a re-read would help with emphasising key parts of the story in my own head, let alone with a class.

The amount of background detail of Shakespeare's London and theatre is, I'll admit, a key part of this story's appeal. There's only so often you can complete comprehension activities on what the period was really like before it becomes completely boring; at least an actual story might engage students. Also, the timeslip element is, for me, hugely appealing as I love time travel stories (although not TimeRiders, I found that quite tedious).

Lastly, I really liked the ending and how it tied up with other Shakespeare plays. There was an emotional heart to the story which would be even clearer on a re-read.

All in all, an enjoyable little book. And short...

1 comment:

  1. OK, you've convinced me. I will have to read this. I loved James Shapiro's "1599". Is this the same Susan Cooper who wrote all those older kids' novels back in the 1970's - "the Dark is Rising", etc?