Monday, May 4, 2009

"The Shakespeare Stealer" by Gary Blackwood

The title itself is quite intriguing. I expected a thrilling story full of hidden “easter eggs” for Shakespeare readers. For those of you who don’t know, easter eggs are hidden allusions designed for the hardcore fans. It wasn’t exactly what I expected. The novel is quite short and shouldn’t take too long to plow through. However, it seems more common or more prominent when I read that the beginning of a novel can very well make or break a story. It seems more times than not, I’m not too impressed by the exposition. Don’t get me wrong. I love exposition. It’s my favorite part of any tale; well, that and the conflict that soon follows of course. However, I need to care about the character or what’s happening around him to truly appreciate it. In this case, I didn’t. The main protagonist, Widge, is an average, reluctant, and innocent boy forced to do wrong. He is charged with using his special skill, writing in cipher, to copy down one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, Hamlet, in one of the first of its performances. It’s rather predictable, yet to some point still charming. There’s nothing overly remarkable besides the occasional reference to the Shakespeare mythos which also serves as the main gimmick. One aspect in its defense is that it has a pleasing writing style and is fairly well-written. I award “The Shakespeare Stealer” three stars. ***

Review by Alisa Heskin

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