When his father requests a debt settled in London, a young Will Shakespeare leaves Stratford behind and begins his life in the city – unfortunately meeting with a trio of thieves on his first day. A tavern maid, called Long Meg for her generous stature, witnesses the exchange and, having been betrayed by the same boys a few years before, offers to help Will retrieve his money – albeit in disguise. Dressed as a young man, Meg becomes her twin brother, Mack, and is thus free to roam the city with Will, who is unaware of Meg’s deception.
Much hilarity ensues, with thieving scoundrels, fights and flights, and coincidental meetings – eventually providing fodder for the budding playwright. Just when events begin falling into place for Will, he receives a summons back to Stratford where he must make a crucial decision that will affect not only his career, but his growing love for Meg.
With lines from Shakespeare’s plays scattered into the dialogue, this story reimagines Will’s entry into his profession and some possible inspirations that could have lead to his great works. The character backgrounds and personalities are adequate, though sometimes events fall too neatly into the storyline. The best aspect of the writing is the exchanges between the characters, most notably Will and Mack/Meg, the latter making a very inspiring protagonist.
This is a fun novel for young Shakespeare fans, but does not require prior knowledge of his plays for enjoyment of the story. Overall, it is a satisfying romp for young readers, and pleasing for adults as well.