London, 1610; a dirty, dangerous yet exhilarating place and home to seventeen-year-old Ned Lambert, an actor in Shakespeare’s theatre company, the King’s Men’s. Ned’s voice has broken, so he can’t now play women’s parts. The theatre is his family – his own died of the plague – but will the King’s Men still want him? A penniless man in London won’t last long.
He has other problems, too: strange experiences of a beautiful woman in green from the world of Faery who wants him to join her there. Then royal theatre patron, Prince Henry, befriends Ned, so Ned must learn to cope with the court world. And the only person who understands him is Shakespeare, who knows about demanding patrons, and has had his own Otherworld experiences.
I really enjoyed this book. It brings the world of Jacobean theatre vividly to life, especially the art of illusion, whether creating a tempest on stage, or making tawdry garments look like the robes of kings. Financial realities also mean keeping wealthy patrons happy, and Shakespeare’s plays can be dangerously political as well as entertaining – a dangerous balancing act.
Perceptively and captivatingly written, Shakespeare’s Ghost is highly recommended for children of thirteen plus.
Once I had got into it, I did enjoy Shakespeare’s Ghost, but in the first half of the book I felt slightly confused with the contrast of fantasy and reality. I found the time the book was set in interesting, and I thought the involvement and link with Shakespeare and his plays was clever. However, the complex storyline, for me, took a bit of time to understand fully. I also found Ned’s connection with the Prince perplexing as I wasn’t sure why they had become such intimate friends or why the Prince had taken such an interest in Ned.
Freya Sutcliffe, age 13